Ashley James And Dr. Joan Ifland


  • What is food addiction
  • How do you get food addiction
  • Processed foods attack cell function in eight different ways
  • Processed foods impair major frontal lobe functions
  • What are mirror neurons
  • 11 behaviors in addiction diagnosis

Dr. Joan Ifland is a food addiction expert and the lead editor and author of the textbook, Processed Food Addiction: Foundations, Assessment, and Recovery. She has helped thousands of people overcome their food addiction and recover from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, fatigue, isolation, and obesity. In this episode, Joan explains what food addiction is, how it affects people’s lives with food addiction, and what you can do to overcome it.


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[00:02:24] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 471. I’m so excited for today’s guest. We have Dr. Joan Ifland on the show who has groundbreaking research in how to recover from food addiction. She’s designed a program that helps people with severe processed food addiction overcome that. What I really like, Joan, is that you mentioned that those who have food addiction have been severely disrespected in the media, even from certain therapies. It’s a not well-understood addiction, it has a really negative stigma, and people feel a lot of shame and guilt about their food addiction. I’m really excited for you today to unpack what is food addiction.

It’s such a strange thing to me because we have to eat, right? You don’t have to drink alcohol. You don’t have to smoke cigarettes. You don’t have to do heroin, but we have to eat. To have such day-to-day, moment-to-moment struggle with the internal desire for food, that hunger that never goes away, and all the body shame around that really eats the person alive. And then to feel like they can’t get any help because there’s such a stigma around it.

I love the work that you do. You’re making such headway in this field, and I’m looking forward today for you to share some tools and for us to dive into this. I think that there are degrees of food addiction and there are degrees of recovery. And so I hope that for all listeners who have caught themselves realizing that for whatever part of the spectrum they’re on in their recovery or in food addiction, that they’re able to gain a foothold, some healing today, and some tools that they can take away and continue to grow. So welcome to the show.


[00:05:00] Dr. Joan Ifland: Yay. Thank you. Wow, that was the best introduction. Well done. You’re very clear on the issues and the context in which these issues have developed. Well done. Well done.


[00:05:16] Ashley James: I want to start by saying that this topic is no stranger to me. I watched my father struggle with food addiction. I watched my mother and I don’t know what flavor of food addiction she had, but she definitely had body shame, body issues. She was always dieting. It was like the last 15 pounds to lose. My mother was never overweight, but there was a lot of control around food. Then she would binge red jujubes and that was her secret. She would eat almost nothing. She would have almost nothing and then she would maybe eat handfuls of red jujubes.

She believed low fat, so she bought into, okay, I’m going to grill a chicken breast and I’m going to have half a cup of broccoli and that’s my lunch. She believed that any starch was really unhealthy, so she would yell at me if we were at a restaurant and I ordered a fish with a side of rice. She did this one. She stood up at the restaurant and yelled at me. I was about 12 and she shamed me and yelled at me because I ordered rice. I mean, in her mind, she was so afraid that if you ate starch that you would get fat.

So I grew up in this very controlling, food was very controlled, and she had a lot of emotion and upset around it. And then my dad on the other hand, snuck food and was always up and down 100 pounds and just yo-yoing. And then for me, I really have seen that food, and I don’t gravitate towards processed food because I’ve learned it’s so not healthy for me and for anyone, but for me, I have worked on the emotions around food, around binge eating, overeating, and food addiction. I’ve been working on that for years.

I’ve seen people who are sort of worse off than me and people who are better off, and like I said, that’s what I feel it’s a spectrum. I feel that even someone who seemingly looks healthy could have a food addiction. Just like any addiction, in my experience—I’d love for you to fill in the details—we go towards an addiction, for that dopamine, for that sense of control, and that sense of relief. It’s a stress relief that dopamine in the brain. It is a coping mechanism, but it’s also like our blanket, our Binky, something that comforts us when we’re in high stress and it gives us that relief.

What I’d love to dive in and find out, what starts food addiction? Why do some people go towards heroin and don’t have a food addiction and other people have food addiction? What is it about the people that end up with food addiction, why didn’t they end up with heroin addiction? It’s such a different thing.


[00:08:48] Dr. Joan Ifland: This is a really, really great way to start the interview. I do want to say I’m sorry for the modeling and the behavior of your parents. But it does answer your opening question, which is how the heck do we get this? You got it from your parents, the processed food industry, the health industry, and the diet industry. They all contribute to the development of processed food addiction in different ways.

But let me start out with mechanics. So what is actually going on in the brain? This is a great gift that brain imaging technology has given us is an understanding of what’s going on in the brain. Because prior to a clear understanding of the mechanics, these brain cells are hyperactive, these brain cells are not active. Prior to that, people made up stories about addictions. This person was weak-willed. If they just had more willpower, they’d be able to conquer it. They don’t like themselves, they lack self-control, or they’re even immoral.

So all these stories about addicted people have sprung up, and none of them are true. None of them are true at all. It’s simple in concept and thousands of complexities in implementation for recovery, but the concept is quite simple, and it happens in stages.

So step one is the reward system brain cells are taught through Pavlovian conditioning to explode with feel-good neurotransmitters. How do you teach a cell to explode with feel-good neurotransmitters? You ingest substances that cause those cells to explode. Literally flood the brain with enough craving neurotransmitters to control behavior, and that is the key to everything. Once we have addicted brain cells and they are putting out this flood of neurotransmitters, that alone is capable of controlling behavior. 

So those neurotransmitters go over to the motion center, the behavior center in the brain, latch on to the behavior of brain cells, and you are going to get the substance. So here’s what is not happening is the frontal lobe which is where rational thought lives—


[00:12:03] Ashley James: Yeah, where’s the frontal lobe in any of this?


[00:12:07] Dr. Joan Ifland: So the blood flow has been pulled off to the addicted brain cells and the frontal lobe is not firing. It’s literally not firing, so all the good things that you’ve learned, the determinations, all that stuff is not available. It’s like that part of your computer has crashed. There’s no data in, there’s no data out, and there’s certainly no control.

Well, here’s the next step then. Anything associated with those substances is actually more powerful in being able to trigger the addicted brain cells. Maybe you have a friend and you go and you get addictive substances with that friend. That friend is now what’s called an associative cue, an associative trigger. That just seeing that friend can set those addicted brain cells off to creating this flood of cravings. 

In the case of processed foods, there are so many different substances that all four of the major feel-good reward pathways have become addicted. So that’s dopamine, serotonin, opiate, and cannabinoid. This is one of the reasons why this particular addiction is so hard to give up.

And then the other piece of it is that the processed food industry was really taken over by big tobacco in the mid-1980s. They have an addiction business model. They deliberately train those feel-good pathways to become reactive to cueing, so you associate processed foods with everything because they’re everywhere. They’re at your school, they’re at your faith organization, they’re at your workplace. They’re all over your house. Hopefully not anymore, but they’re on the road. They’re on TV. They’re everywhere. 

You are constantly, by association, being stimulated to release those craving brain chemicals. If they build up enough, they will get control of behavior. That’s how you get an addiction. This substance is ingested, the substance causes this eruption, and then you begin to get the cued eruption. You’re not using the substance, but you have an association with it, and that starts setting off this flood that controls behavior. Let me just stop there. Does that help?


[00:15:15] Ashley James: That’s great and I have questions. When you said there’s an associated person, but that’s like the Pavlovian trigger, the anchor. It could also be a location. It could be smells. It can be marketing like you see the brands, you see the logo, or the box. o for me, location. I think back to a location where I would have ingested a substance that causes all of the feel-good or chemicals to go off. Then just even thinking about being back in that location for me. 

It could be music if music was playing at the time of the heightened—so maybe not everyone knows what the Pavlovian response is. It’s when you’re at a heightened emotional state and there’s another stimulus around, your brain will then anchor those two together. A song is playing when you’re in a heightened state, the next time that song plays it will trigger that heightened state, not as much but it will trigger it enough for you to think back and maybe start wanting that again.

My husband said something very interesting. He goes, the first time you do—I’m just going to say substance because it could be drugs, alcohol. Whatever the substance is, the first time you do it is not as good as the next time or the time after. He did a substance, let’s say it’s a chocolate chip cookie or whatever the substance was, he did it and he loved it so much. Then he did it 20 more times throughout a few months trying to chase that high and he said it was never as good as the first time. 

Can you explain why is it that the first time is amazing and then we tend to try to chase that high of maybe in our memory it feels like it’s so amazing and then we get disappointed? I ate a chocolate chip cookie and it’s like, wow, this wasn’t as good as that other time. I’m going to keep trying to find the chocolate cookie that brings back that first time.


[00:17:38] Dr. Joan Ifland: You’re asking a super excellent question. Let me elaborate on the first part of what you just said, and then I’ll go into the kind of diminishing return. Why is it that the brain so easily picks up these associative cues? People, places, things, time of year, time of day? Why? 

It’s because if you believe in evolution, every time a human for 7 million years found food, the brain would mark every, every, every, every detail of that moment because a year later with no ability to record anything, just relying on memory, that human would have to find that place again at that time of year and maybe even at that time of day. If for example it was maybe an egg and you needed to go up and get the eggs when the parent birds were off foraging.

The brain timestamps every, every, every detail, and this is also true for addictions because these foods are not food. The sugar, flour, gluten, excessive salt, dairy, processed fats, caffeine, food additives, the brain is not registering those as food. They’re registering them as addictive drugs, but addictive drugs timestamping works the same way. 

If you were a human a million years ago and you found food, your brain would timestamp every, every detail of that moment. The weather, the plants, the mountains, the path, the location of the stream, the time of day, who’s with you, the terrain, the soil, every, every detail so that you could find it again in a year with no ability to record any detail of it. So it’s every detail.

I mean, you may think, oh, it could be a color, it could be anything, the brain will just look at every, every detail. And then, of course, the food industry exploits that by putting those associative cues in front of people all the time. Okay, so I just wanted to reinforce exactly what you were saying.


Now, why are there diminishing returns? This is called tolerance or progression. There are two easy things to understand. One is when the brain has had a big an over like an abnormal amount of anything, there is a counteracting emotion. When the feel-good pathways have had this extraordinary flood, the counteracting motion is for the stress pathway to release stress.

It’s called the corticotropin-releasing factor pathway, and it sends messages to the adrenal glands to release cortisol, create some stress, and put the brain back into balance. That part of the brain also gets trained to respond, and it will respond sooner and sooner and sooner as it picks up the Pavlovian conditioning. That’s one reason why there is a diminishing return.

The other reason is that the way two neurons, two brain cells communicate is across a gap called a synapse. The way it works is cell number one releases the neurotransmitter. Cell number two has a receptor. In the case of the reward pathways, the receptor is a C-shaped receptor, so the neurotransmitter actually hits like a ball into a C.

What happens over time because those receptors are not designed to maintain that level of bombardment, the first time it happens, all of the neurotransmitters hit the receptors and the pleasure is transmitted through the nervous system. But the second time, the body is saying no, no, no, no, we cannot tolerate this amount of excitement, pleasure. We’re not designed to do that. 

The brain will start to shut down receptors to prevent that surge. Over time, it just shuts down more and more and more and more. This is why you don’t get the pleasure from it, but you continue to pursue it because if you stop, then only the stress pathways are active and it hurts. It hurts to stop. That is withdrawal. That’s how we know that this is drugs.

People continue to use processed foods. This could take months or years. At some point, you’re not getting any pleasure out of it at all. There are so many receptors that are shut down. We actually see this on PET scans, Positron Emission Tomography scans, where a healthy person has these bright red dopamine receptor fields. Obese people don’t have them and cocaine-addicted people don’t have them. It’s one of our strongest pieces of evidence that this is drug addiction, and it doesn’t really have anything to do with eating. 

Just like the tobacco industry hid nicotine in cigarettes and addicted people by hiding the addictive substance. Once tobacco came into processed foods, they hired a consultant, Howard Moskowitz, to hide the maximum amount of sugar, fat, and salt in foods before people could detect it. It’s just diabolical, but none of it was our fault.

In the progression, you feel worse and worse and worse, the depression and anxiety are increasing, but it’s increasing in response to the substances, to the mechanical almost like an allergic reaction now. You have this big flood of neurochemicals being released. There are fewer and fewer neurotransmitter receptors to send the message and you’re still having this stress reaction. So people’s emotional profiles just fall apart.


[00:24:43] Ashley James: A few years ago I was reading a study that talked about these PET scans. The TLDR was people who are not obese don’t think about food, they don’t really get pleasure from thinking about food or planning it, but when they eat, they actually receive pleasure. Those who had obesity or food addiction spent a lot of time thinking about and planning their next meal and planning their next snack and really getting stimulated. The pleasure center’s getting stimulated over thinking about it. But then when they went to eat, it was so disappointing. 

Kind of like porn addiction, fantasy is better than reality and I thought that was fascinating. Is there a way to reverse it? Is there a way to reverse it so that those who have a food addiction and also cocaine addiction that those centers of the brain aren’t lighting up anymore? Is there a way to heal the brain and come back from this?


[00:25:55] Dr. Joan Ifland: Yes. What you have to do is give the whole system a big rest. You have to stop stimulating it. Now if for alcohol or cocaine addiction, you avoid the cues. So you avoid the people that you used with and you don’t drive past the crack house, find another way. This is part of the complexity of recovering from processed food addiction is it’s everywhere.

You have two pathways. One is to avoid the cueing and two is to neutralize cues. You can rewire the brain to associate the substances with pain and people are more driven by pain aversion than they are by pleasure-seeking. This is great research coming out of the economics field.

In our programs, we encourage people to come into the program and talk about a lapse so that they can then immediately associate the pain with it. There’s a lot of pain from processed foods—physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral. It’s quite destructive. It’s just as destructive. It looks very different, but it’s just as destructive as any drug addiction. 

The name of the game is to train the brain that when you think about that food you think about the headaches, stomachache, screaming at your children, fatigue, not able to sleep, racing thoughts, intense cravings, breaking out of the skin, stomach ache, asthma, inflammatory properties, infections, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Processed foods attack cell function in eight different ways. There are 144 conditions associated by research with processed foods. It’s not hard to come up with a very long list of things that go haywire when you eat processed foods. 

Let me go back to something that you started out saying, Ashley, we have to eat. That would be saying to an alcoholic, well, figure out how to use alcohol because you have to drink. No. We all know how to divide the world of beverages into safe and alcoholic, non-alcoholic and alcohol, and then there’s really a third category, which is the druggie sugared beverages.

We do the same thing with food. We have safe unprocessed foods and then we have addictive processed foods. It is the processing that concentrates natural endorphins in the food to the point where they’re strong enough to train these reward centers to release craving neurotransmitters.


[00:29:13] Ashley James: Is there a particular diet that helps us heal the brain faster or the fastest diet that doesn’t overstimulate the pleasure centers?


[00:29:30] Dr. Joan Ifland: Yeah. If it’s okay if I mention a website.


[00:29:35] Ashley James: Sure.


[00:29:36] Dr. Joan Ifland: and just sign up for the free information and you will get to two lists. One is the excluded food list. This is based on research. I wrote and edited the textbook for the field, Processed Food Addiction: Foundations, Assessment, and Recovery. I wrote the whole food plan chapter in that textbook. It’s based on 250 studies. We know—the research is clear—that there’s a whole range of addictive substances that have been added to our food or just presented through advertising that they are food. They’re not food, they’re drugs.

It’s just like the tobacco industry was able to persuade us that cigarettes are sexy. Cigarettes are disgusting and repulsive. Cigarettes are rebellious. No, they’re killing you. Or that they’re sophisticated, they’re modern, or any of those things. They’re none of those things. So these are fantasies that the tobacco companies created in order to get people to use the addictive substances often enough to create the conditioning of the reward centers.

They’ve done exactly the same thing with these drugs. They’ve created the delusion that they are food. They’re not food. They’re just not food. We do have the excluded list, and then we have the clean list. Now inside our programs, we teach people a rotation method to figure out which foods on the unprocessed list are harmful to that individual. 

There’s not a food plan. My food plan is completely different from anybody else’s food plan. I’m 70 years old. When I was 44 almost 26 years ago, I had a completely different food plan. The commonality from all these food plans is a highly individualized personalized food plan is they don’t have drugs in them. 

Step one is to get the drugs out of your food and step two is to use a rotation method to see if you’re allergic to any of the unprocessed foods. I can’t eat the nightshade group, I can’t eat the citrus group, and I can’t eat the gourds—the melons, zucchini, and squash. I can’t. Those are just three groups. I have had lifelong asthma and they kick up my asthma, so I don’t eat them.


[00:32:34] Ashley James: And for others, the symptoms might be not as obvious. Figuring out your food sensitivities is a fun game. You could benefit from working with an experienced naturopathic physician or functional medicine practitioner. There’s also evidence that suggest that leaky gut syndrome, which of course we can definitely develop from eating processed foods and particularly gluten, grains, barley, wheat, rye, and even oats, which contain gliadin similar to gluten. That causes leaky gut syndrome, which increases food sensitivities and the body overreacts to certain foods.

Healing the gut and also the microbiome, and I have several episodes on that. Listeners could go to and use the search function to find them, but several interviews on healing the microbiome of the gut and healing leaky gut syndrome. There are ways to support the body in overcoming some food sensitivities, but then others are baked into the cake like for you, you’ve noticed that nightshades do not complement your physiology and so you avoid them.

I think it’s really important to also listen to the body because problems with sleep, problems with concentration, mood swings, and even skin problems all can be from foods that we’re having sensitivities towards. But my big thing is whole foods. If it came from the ground or if it’s the whole form it’s not processed, and therefore, it’s much more likely to not trigger the hyper response that processed foods are designed to like designer drugs, right?


[00:34:30] Dr. Joan Ifland: Yes, exactly, exactly, exactly. This is a business model that is used by alcohol, marijuana, vaping, tobacco, and processed foods. Even the pharmaceutical industry used it to start the opioid epidemic. The way they marketed it to doctors, very deceptive, were hidden addictive properties to the product, which they did not tell the doctors about so the doctors prescribed it freely and people became very addicted. It’s very, very sad. It’s very sad. Our government just stands by and lets it happen.


[00:35:13] Ashley James: No, the government actually invests in it but through food subsidies. We’re subsidizing crops that directly benefit the processed food industry. Not only that, the processed food industry lobbies so that these foods are fed to prisoners and to children in schools. I cannot even begin to wrap my brain around when you look at what public school children are fed, the amount of processed food they are fed, the amount of sugar, and then they’re given drugs for ADHD. It is just like the perfect storm. 

Big food and big pharma got together and said, let’s both work together to lobby to increase our profits. Let’s fill children with sugar and with artificial dyes, and then we’ll create a drug that they need because they’re going to be so hyper off the wall because their brains are being put on a barbecue. They’re putting them in the deep fryer, basically. Their brains are so hopped up on all these excitotoxins and all the neurotransmitters that are so hyped up it’s like they’re on cocaine and then we’re going to have to give them drugs.

When I was a kid, in a classroom of 30 kids, there’d be one kid with ADHD. One kid was on Ritalin, and now it is so much more common. These children’s brains are still developing and to put them on these drugs will affect them for the rest of their lives. The long-term devastating effects of being put on Ritalin or Adderall is incredibly harmful to a growing child. Food is the main culprit.


[00:37:06] Dr. Joan Ifland: Processed foods.


[00:37:07] Ashley James: The processed foods, I apologize. Yes, processed foods are the culprit that is creating this. I have several episodes on ADHD and overcoming it, healing the brain, healing the body, and correcting the diet for ADHD. We have to get the 30,000-foot view and we have to study the history of the last 100 years to really understand the amount of marketing, the creation of what we live in today.

I’ve said this on the show before, so I grew up in the ‘80s. I was born in 1980. I’m 41 years old, and I grew up in Canada. So a little bit different than the states, but not much. I remember watching Kellogg’s commercial, “Milk does a body good,” watching Tony the Tiger, and all these different childlike characters for all the different cereals and it made me feel good. Now, I never ate any of these cereals because my mom wouldn’t let any sugar in the house. My mom was very controlling of our food. It did have its benefits.

Once a year, on my birthday, I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted and you bet I ate cereal. I ate Honeycomb even though it tore my mouth up. I remember that. But once a year I was allowed to have Pizza Pops and whatever junk food, but the rest of the year there was no junk food. That’s a good thing. It’s a good thing, but I think that there needs to be a balance to teach a child how to make their own choices so they don’t rebel when they’re older like I did. 

I remember watching the marketing and then going into the grocery store and seeing it on the shelves. You know what it instilled in me although I never ate them? It instilled in me a sense of safety. I remember because I grew up with all this marketing and then I walk past all these cereal boxes. Oh, the familiar faces. Look, there’s that rooster. There’s that little ghost character. There’s Tony the Tiger. It was like all these familiar faces, the branding.

You see these companies, the tobacco companies, they don’t just mark it for the next 5 or 10 years. They are generational marketing. They plan on paying for marketing so that a four-year-old will buy their products when they’re 40. When you said that we have to take ourselves away from the stimulant and choose foods that aren’t going to create that stimulant but also just walk into a grocery store alone, you’re bombarded by all the logos even from your childhood.


[00:40:04] Dr. Joan Ifland: We have innovated a very, very new approach to this particular addiction. We get it deep, deep, deep down on the inside to spend three years full-time developing, editing, writing, and researching the textbook. There are two things I got out of doing that. One, we’ve never had such a severe addiction on the face of the earth because there are so many different substances, because we’re being bombarded with cueing because the illnesses to develop are so debilitating.

But you hit on the thing that’s never really happened before. Once high fructose corn syrup was introduced to the market, the drugs could be cheap enough to be marketed heavily to children. So if you are born to parents using processed foods, the very first DNA replication will be of an addicted DNA strand, and you’d never have one minute. If your mother’s eating sugar, the sugar’s coming through the breast milk. If they’re not, then the baby formula industry has loaded sugar into baby formula, so it starts at a very young age.

There are many complications of that. The blood flow is being pulled to the addicted brain cells and away from their frontal lobe. So all the major frontal lobe functions are now impaired, and that includes being able to pay attention, learn, make decisions, control impulses, and remember. So you see these epidemics of impairment in those areas.


[00:41:54] Ashley James: Can we pause for a second? Can you go back? I think that just really is something that needs to be underlined. What are the functions of the brain that are impaired?


[00:42:05] Dr. Joan Ifland: The whole frontal lobe is not getting blood flow. The very highly specialized cells in the frontal lobe that distinguish us from animals are things like the ability to pay attention to something for a long time. That’s not getting any blood flow. That’s an attention deficit. Learning is in the frontal lobe. This is very different from just mechanical Pavlovian conditioning of the midbrain or the primitive brain, so you have learning difficulties.

Here’s the thing, if I’m going to assert that this is a very, very widespread addiction, then you have to show things. You have to show an agent who’s creating the addiction. Okay, we have the processed food industry and we have the complicity of the government. You’re absolutely right if you say big pharm. You have the blood flow being pulled away from the frontal lobe where you have attention paying. You have decision-making, and this is different from the reflexive behaviors that come out of the midbrain. 

The frontal lobe is able to create conscious behavior if those cells have blood flow, but in the addicted brain, the blood flow is going back into the addicted brain cells, the stress pathways, and the locomotion pathways.

If you don’t have good decision-making, which we see rampantly, you don’t have impulse control and you don’t have memory. Those are all frontal lobe functions, so you have an epidemic of Alzheimer’s and you have an epidemic of poor impulse control. I know I went into kind of the “online basement” of the US Department of Agriculture to write. Our research team published the first description of refined foods in addiction in the Academic Press. We got to name the disease. 

But for that article, I said, I’ve got to show exactly which substances were increased in use through the obesity epidemic. I think I went to like 1970 and 1997, and these substances that were increased in use were high fructose corn syrup, gluten-containing flour, high-fat dairy, and potatoes, so frozen potatoes, french fries, fried potatoes. Beans did not increase, red meat did not increase, none of those real foods increased.

They’re always trying to point, oh, see, carbs are bad or red meat is bad. No, no, the consumption of those did not increase in between those two years. If I’m going to say that processed food addiction is behind these cognitive impairments, this mental impairment, I’ve got to make all those pieces fit together and they do. The research is just incredibly consistent. If you say, well, these foods are causing the problems, then you better be pointing at epidemics of those problems. 

At that point, in 1997, people were eating a pound per person per day of sugars, gluten-containing flour, high fat dairy, and fried potatoes. That was then. As we were just talking, the progression, the tolerance eating more of the substances over time, that data is from 20 years ago. Now we have new research actually coming out of Canada, showing that adolescents are eating 67% of their calories in these processed foods, and that probably doesn’t include dairy. People don’t know to include dairy in the category of processed foods. 

If you’re going to say that processed foods caused these problems, then you’re going to have to point to epidemics of those problems at that consumption level, and there they are. There are the epidemics—diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, Alzheimer’s, dementia, learning disabilities, attention span, poor decision making, poor impulse control, memory loss, and then all the rest of them you would have to see gut disorders. You would have to see inflammatory diseases, and they’re all there. They’re all epidemics.


[00:47:34] Ashley James: Everything that you mentioned makes them feel worse. This is the catch 22; this is the cycle, right? They feel bad because they have those conditions, and then they need that pick me up because they feel bad, so then they reach for one of these foods.


[00:47:52] Dr. Joan Ifland: It’s the insanity. It’s the mental illness aspect of it. You also have all the emotional disorders because of the downregulated—it’s called downregulated when those feel-good receptors start collapsing. They look like the head of a dead [inaudible 00:48:13]. Now you cannot process quick feelings. You see this very minuscule but very disturbing not yet statistically significant increase in suicides across all ages but among children.


[00:48:33] Ashley James: Yes. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among children today.


[00:48:39] Dr. Joan Ifland: It’s because their world, all the pathways in the brain that would bring reasons for optimism or some kind of future, has collapsed. It’s a mechanical problem, and so you have depression. Now you have all this extra adrenaline because remember, the stress pathways are compensating for these surges of euphoria. You have extra adrenaline, which is anger and anxiety. I got into this field 26 years ago because I got off of sugars and flours to solve a weight problem and my raging went away. I wasn’t expecting that.

The sinus infection went away. The bloating went away. The weight was coming off easily. The cravings went away. The brain fog went away. All that stuff went away and I was thrilled. The allergies went away, fatigue. It was amazing. It was like I was winning the lottery every day. But when I got to the third week of that program, I realized that I hadn’t raged at my husband or children. I hadn’t yelled, I hadn’t criticized, I hadn’t found anything wrong with them. I got a new career. 

I was a Stanford MBA. I had a corporate career, which I had to let go of because I was too sick, too allergic to go back to work, too tired, too brain fog. But instead of going back into the corporate world, I began looking for research. That was 26 years ago. The impact on the personality of these drugs is horrifying.


[00:50:28] Ashley James: Sorry to interrupt, you describe my mom. Ninety percent of the time she ate so strictly because she had to keep her figure. But then she would sneak these jujubes, she’d sneak these chocolates, and then she’d just rage at us, just snapped. 

Like I said, she stood up in a restaurant and started yelling at me because I ordered a dish that had a side of rice with steamed vegetables and a grilled fillet of fish. I purposely made this really conscious effort. I really wanted to impress her with making a good choice on the menu and then she just stood up and screamed at me. She would throw things. She would just snap and start raging. That does really describe that.

She had huge problems concentrating. I remember she couldn’t follow movies. She was wonderful as a businesswoman. She owned her own business. It was incredibly successful, so she had a lot on her mind. She admitted that when we went to plays or musicals, she couldn’t follow the plot. We watched movies, she didn’t really follow the plot, and she read all the time. I found her to be incredibly intelligent, but her concentration and her raging, I mean, I wonder if that was linked to her own food addiction.


[00:51:55] Dr. Joan Ifland: Totally. These are drugs. These are characteristic behaviors of people with cocaine addiction or alcoholism, these really vast mood swings. On top of the elevated adrenaline, these processed carbohydrates particularly get into the bloodstream all at once. They’re pre-digested, there’s no breaking down process. So you get these glucose highs, and then the pancreas can be conditioned to anticipate this surge of glucose in the bloodstream, which is deadly by the way. 

If your glucose is too high, your brain goes out, so it’s deadly. The pancreas is on red hot alert, oh, it’s coming, It’s coming, it’s coming. It’ll start releasing insulin before the glucose even gets there so you constantly have these highs. And then in the crash, it’s the adrenal gland that goes back over to the fat cells and pulls glucose out so that you don’t die from low blood sugar. 

There are two danger zones—the high blood sugar and the low blood sugar—and then there’s the safety zone in between. So when you are crashing, the insulin has been released and your blood sugar is falling, you totally lose control of behavior. Eighty percent of violent offenders in prison have hypoglycemia, not enough, so it’s unstable blood glucose. And then on top of that, you lay on the caffeine. 

Caffeine works by blocking a calmness function on the nervous system. The part of the nervous system that is designed to emit messages of calmness, peacefulness, contentment, caffeine blocks that function. You can’t feel calm. Caffeine doesn’t work because you’re more alert. Caffeine works because you’re less calm. It’s a nasty combination.


[00:54:15] Ashley James: It blocks the part of the brain that tells you you’re tired. So your body is tired, but your brain’s not going to tell you you’re tired. It’s blocking the tiredness. I mean, that is just such a great example of our entire food industry, our entire processed food industry. It’s like, we’re going to jack you up. You wake up and you’re tired.

Okay. Dr. Molly Niedermeyer is a naturopathic physician. She was the Dean of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University. I think she was one of the first deans. She’s been practicing for well over 30 years. I had her on the show and she said a 5% reduction in hydration leads to a 25% reduction in energy production. ATP can’t be created as well if we don’t have enough water. So we wake up dehydrated and what do we do? 

We’re tired, we’re cranky because we had a bad night’s sleep because we’re rolling on the sugar highs and lows and all the stimulants from the processed foods, and so then we reach for caffeine. Caffeine dehydrates us further and blocks the ability for us to even recognize and get in touch with our body and feel that we’re that tired. Then what you said is it blocks the calmness in the brain, so now we’re more agitated, then add sugar to that and we rage.


[00:55:46] Dr. Joan Ifland: Exactly. It impairs, it just makes painfully dysfunctional every system in the body.


[00:56:01] Ashley James: We don’t have access to the logic centers of our brain anymore, so we can’t think critically. And then we go around our life reacting to things instead of planning and controlling our behaviors. If we control our behaviors, we control our outcomes in life. If we don’t have control of our behaviors, we don’t have control of our outcomes, we feel out of control, and then we reach towards substances that allow us to, at the moment, feel like we have control, which furthers the cycle.


[00:56:28] Dr. Joan Ifland: Feelings drive the whole thing and feelings are now being controlled by the substances. But can I offer your listeners a ray of hope?


[00:56:38] Ashley James: Yes. I’m glad we’ve painted the picture though. I think it’s really important to really understand that someone who is involved in food addiction and possibly even their parents, their grandparents, this could be generational. It’s not because, like you said, they’re weak-willed, they don’t love themselves enough, or there’s something wrong, bad, and shameful about them. Their brain chemistry has been hijacked by an industry, for some people, since birth.


[00:57:07] Dr. Joan Ifland: Since conception. There’s one system in the brain in the body which works no matter what. No matter what else is going on, this one system continues to work, and the fact that it continues to work will either kill you or save you. I am talking about mirror neurons. 

They’re quite a recent discovery. It was discovered in a monkey lab in Italy. What they do is they copy. They copy the behavior of the people they see the most. They’re the second most powerful system in the brain. The most powerful system in the brain is the autonomic system, which is making our heartbeat and our blood flow. Then there is, under one particular circumstance, the fear of famine brain, the food-seeking brain will become more and more powerful than mirror neurons. There has to be a pretty severe famine going on for it to take precedence over mirror neurons.

So mirror neurons are the second most powerful system in the brain for a very good reason. For seven million years of human evolution, if you were accepted into a tribe of 7 to 12 other humans, you lived, you survived because they could find food, find shelter, protect your children, and protect you from predators. If you’re the kind of person who likes wandering off by yourself, well, the predators were waiting for you.

The evidence on this is kind of shocking. But in prehistoric hyena caves, anthropologists and archeologists have found human bones in the bone piles. So we know that at least hyenas ate humans. In evolution, if you had really good mirror neurons you would live. So in the evolution of humans, mirror neurons take just increasing precedence in the hierarchy of the brain. 

Now, the food industry knows this tragically well, and this is why you will see commercials on TV that feature people sitting on sofas watching TV. When you see one of those commercials, your mirror neuron says, oh yeah, that’s my tribe. I’m going to the kitchen because I need something to eat.

The opportunity to get free of all of the brain malfunctions, all the brain dysfunction is to find a tribe of 7 to 12 people that you are going to spend most of your time with. This is the breakthrough that we have incorporated into our online community. We offer 15 hours a day of live programming. There is a real trained person on that Zoom screen. Because you can just pop in, you can pop in for five minutes, you can pop in for an hour, you can pop in for all 15 hours, and then you can fill in the gaps through the day with videos from our video library that we have made ourselves. And it’s pretty cool. I mean, it’s just so cool. 

So hopeful is what a short period of time it takes for mirror neurons to swing away from the unhealthy people in our lives over to the healthy people. We are seeing that screens work perfectly well. Only 2% of the brain is the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is teensy, teensy, teensy tiny. The frontal lobe cannot win in any kind of competition with any other nodules, nodes, cortexes in the brain. It’s too tiny. It’s way too tiny. But what the frontal lobe can do is it can control the messaging that reaches the other 98% of the brain, and that’s the hope of the world.


[01:01:53] Ashley James: Fascinating. So throughout the day, if someone is struggling or catching themselves in the middle of a food choice, they could login. What does that look like? They log into the group video chat. What does that look like?


[01:02:13] Dr. Joan Ifland: It’s a Zoom Room. We have a Zoom Room for those 15 hours. One of those hours is a conference call because then we can record the conference call. We don’t record anything on Zoom for confidentiality, but we do record the conference call. They can listen to that conference call then any time of day.

The idea for this came from writing the textbook. There are 11 specific signs for addiction and I wrote a full chapter on how present those signs are in overeaters. There are 11 chapters in the textbook describing each one of those diagnostic criteria as they manifest in overeating. They are criteria that are adapted from diagnosing the existence of alcoholism, so they’re adapted to overeating. That’s also on the website.

Once I got that, oh, it’s a severe addiction. Oh my gosh. And people are severely traumatized by having had it, the addiction itself alone would be traumatizing. It creates so much pain. But then you get all this insanity out of the health industry. The diet industry is working away to wake up your fear of famine brain. Now you have fear of famine on top of the addiction. It’s another reason why it’s so severe. Well, I’m in the middle of researching what do you do for severe addiction?

You go to residential treatment for a couple of years. You go for a fully committed year and then you go maybe on a work-release program where you go to work during the day and then come back to the facility at night. And then maybe you go to a halfway house for another couple of years. We’re not doing that for the hundreds of millions of people who are addicted to processed foods. 

The next level of treatment is something called intensive outpatient (IOP). Well, hospitals don’t have a clue and hospitals are profiting from this, so they don’t want to fix it either. I mean, they do, but the pharmaceutical industry has got their claws into the medical community. They’re trained to believe anything outside of the pharmaceutical is quackery, so they’re not going to be supporting this.

But right at that time, Zoom came along. Literally, I turned in the manuscript for the textbook in May of 2017. I was already doing a daily phone call, which wasn’t working. A daily phone call was not nearly enough to rewire 100 billion brain cells. I mean, I’m serious, you need to rewire every friggin’ brain cell, and there are 100 billion of them. Zoom came along and I thought, wow, I wonder if this would work.

We did a beta the first week of January 2018. These were people who had been on my daily phone call and they were all eating clean by the end of the week. They had not been able to get to eating clean going through withdrawal from all these different substances, maintaining the elimination of these. They hadn’t been able to do it with a daily phone call for two years. But boom, within one week, they were all eating clean.

I had scheduled a pay the public week the following week, same thing, same friggin’ thing. Even at the end of day one, everybody from the outside—so we had the people from the beta who were on and that. I didn’t know about mirror neurons at this point, but the fact that there were people eating clean from the week before, you need at least five people to fully engage brain cells. The more similarities between the people the better this works. But by the end of the first day, I think we had 7 or 10 people from the outside, they were all eating clean. I was shocked.

Ashley, at that point, I had spent 22 years looking for a reliable method. I’m going to start tearing up here. Twenty-two years looking for a reliable way to get people off of processed foods. I mean, I started out with a handout. I’m sure that once people know they should eat this and all that they’ll just do it. No, no, no. I went through 14 different really highly committed efforts to get people off of processed foods, and there it was. It was probably January 7 or January 8, 2018. There it was. After 22 years of looking, there it was, the mirror neuron engagement.


[01:07:24] Ashley James: So the mirror neurons don’t engage when it was just auditory, it needs to be visual as well?


[01:07:31] Dr. Joan Ifland: So you can get some mirror neuron engagement from auditory, but getting the visual, the eye-to-eye. When you think about how these brain cells developed over seven million years. For 7 million years until humans developed language capabilities, everything they saw was true, so that’s why in 98% of the brain, there is no filter. The brain absorbs messaging and files it away as if it were true. 

This is how the food industry has made—they kill a million Americans every two years. A million Americans die of diet-related diseases every two years. The epidemic of COVID would not have happened unless it was coming in on top of processed food addiction with compromised immune systems.

How is the food industry able to do that? How was it able to persuade those reward system brain cells to accept this messaging? It’s because only this little tiny frontal lobe, 2% of the brain, has the ability to tell the difference between something true and something not true. The only reason that capability developed is because language developed. Until you had language, there was no way to lie or deceive another person.

Once you stop bombarding the addictive brain cells and the blood flow stops being taken up by the addicted and stress pathways, it will return to the frontal lobe. It’s the coolest thing. I mean, people think losing weight is the coolest thing, no. Getting your frontal lobe online is really cool. 

People have been told, for example, that they’re stupid. They’ve been told that they’re slow. They’ve been told that they’re dumb. Boom, the frontal lobe starts getting blood flow and they’re brilliant. These are the kinds of very, very cool fun things. This is why it is worth it. It is worth it to get off the processed foods and get off the messaging. Get off the cueing, get off the triggering. Train the brain to go to the pain rather than the deceptive pleasure. Retrain the brain.

It’s like learning a language, and it takes years. This quick weight loss thing, all it does is to fire up the fear of famine brain.


[01:10:25] Ashley James: Right. They certainly know how to market us to keep us cycling through this endless loop. We really need to step back from the dieting industry, the food industry, and all of the marketing and messaging. I think it’s so good to go back actually closer to 150 years. Go back and really understand the history of modern medicine and understand the amount of marketing and it’s generational marketing. Understand Edward Bernays and the history of propaganda. Since your grandparents, it has been in place and it’s a machine. It really is akin to The Matrix, isn’t it?

We are plugged in, you are doped up, and you are plugged into a matrix where it is designed to keep us as cattle. We are fighting amongst ourselves. When I came from Canada to the United States and saw the difference in our political systems, I’m not saying that a parliamentary system is any better or any worse, but I am saying that is just a new perspective as an adult coming into the United States going, oh, okay, two parties. That’s interesting. Two is not a choice. Two is a dilemma. When you’re only given two, it’s a dilemma, right? 

What I really clearly saw was that the way they set up the two-party system is it’s moral- and value-based arguments so that they keep us, the 99%, fighting amongst ourselves because how do you control a population when there’s less than 1% of the people controlling us? You keep fighting amongst ourselves. How do you control the cattle? If they constantly keep up abortion, and I’m not saying these issues aren’t legitimate issues. But the way the politicians fight on camera and then go behind the scenes and shake hands and they’re all buddy, buddy behind the scenes, it’s professional wrestling. 

We need to use that very small 2% of our critical faculty of our frontal brain and we need to get the 30,000-foot view of how the entire society is set up to control you, to suck money out of your wallet, and to keep you sick and suffering. Not to do that to depress you but to free you. When you see the matrix you can free yourself from it.

Another point is you touched on the autonomic nervous system, and one thing that happens when our body goes into fight or flight, which is a sympathetic response, is that it shunts blood away from the logic centers of the brain. We think, oh, well, I’m not in fight or flight.

I had a client once tell me, because repeatedly she would do all my homework except do the homework that surrounded calming her nervous system, getting her out of fight or flight. She wouldn’t do that homework. I thought it was really interesting. She’d eat a pound of broccoli, but she wouldn’t take five deep breaths, go for a walk, meditate, or whatever. 

After five sessions I said, there’s a lot of stress in your life. Why aren’t you doing this homework? She said, I don’t feel stressed. At the time, her mom was dying of cancer, she had a very busy job as a manager, then she came home and she had a daughter and a husband to cook and clean for, and there’s a lot of symptoms that she was expressing were unmanaged stress-related. Physical stress, her body was in the sympathetic nervous system response. 

I said, I’m glad you said that because stress isn’t an emotion. Your physiology is switched over into emergency mode. Certain enzymatic processes stop happening so your body is not healing. Your body shunts resources. The analogy I like because I’m a big sci-fi fan, if you’ve ever watched Star Trek, Captain Picard will say when they’re under a Borg attack they’re really losing, that he needs to shut down the floors that are in use and divert all energy to the shields. That’s what this is. 

So being in stress mode, your body is shutting down anti-cancer properties, immune properties, healing the lining of your stomach and your intestines. All these properties that aren’t essential for immediate survival get suppressed.


[01:15:36] Dr. Joan Ifland: They’re deprived of blood flow. The blood flow is going to the muscles.


[01:15:41] Ashley James: Yes, so that you can fight, flee, or survive in some way. The problem is people think, well, I wasn’t in any “stressful situation” today. I wasn’t in a car crash, I didn’t fight a bear. Yet what people don’t know is that you could be sitting here listening to this podcast and already be in fight or flight because your thoughts can trigger it, the processed foods you eat can trigger it. There are so many things. You don’t actually have to do anything external to trigger your ancient mechanism of survival.


[01:16:22] Dr. Joan Ifland: It can be habitual.


[01:16:25] Ashley James: Yes, habituated to it. Right.


[01:16:26] Dr. Joan Ifland: All your glands and organs are trained to be in that state and you might not even be aware of it. But it’s just what you’re saying.


[01:16:37] Ashley James: What do you do to help turn that off, get us out of sympathetic nervous system response, get us back into parasympathetic nervous system response of rest and digest, and get the blood flow going back into the frontal lobe so that we can begin to really make behaviors consciously?


[01:17:04] Dr. Joan Ifland: The big thing about our program is called the Addiction Reset Community. The very first stressor that is vastly relieved by coming into the program is isolation. You immediately get oxytocin releases, so those systems in the brain, that feel-good systems in the brain aren’t working too well. But being among a community releases oxytocin, and oxytocin will help the dopamine system start to work again. 

Immediately, the fear of being eaten by a predator, which has been instilled for over seven million years, is gone because you now have people around you, and 98% of the brain doesn’t know that those people aren’t right there. Ninety-eight percent of the brain does not understand screens.

It really does believe that those people are right in the next room or they’re right in front of us, but they’re in our house. They’re a couple of feet away. So immediately, the stress of isolation, and not just physical isolation, but processed foods cut off our ability to connect to other people. We have brain fog, we have cravings, we have shame, and we have a body shape that people are eyeballing disdainfully. We are raging, we are anxious, we are making up stories about how they don’t like us. We’re not connecting.

You come into the ARC, the Addiction Reset Community, and people in the ARC, the managers are trained to let the members know that we understand what’s going on with them. We also have been through periods where we have lost control over food, where we have this deep depression. Just almost immediately, that mirror neuron engagement, oh, this person is like me. They understand me. They’re not telling me to push back from the table for heaven’s sakes.

Now, why is that so important? Go back. Go back to the 7 million years of evolution and if you were able to communicate to another person, if you could look them in the eyes and make enough sounds to say there is a tiger behind that bush you would live. If you went to that person and you signaled with your eyes and your fingers that there was something wrong there and that person just said, oh, calm down. Let’s see. Oh, you have hyperexcitability. Let’s give you some medication for that, then you would die because the tiger would pounce.

The ability for another person to see exactly what is going on with you, acknowledge it, affirm it, and agree that it is a huge relief.

From there then you get into the complexities of changing your food. What we’ve learned over these 26 years is that there may be other problems that have to be solved before you can start eating in a different way. 

You might have emotional, mental, or physical abuse going on in the household. You may have to work on relationship boundaries before you can even begin to go grocery shopping. You may be subjected to cueing, you might be working in a food environment, you may have a saboteur at home, or you may be too tired or brain fogged and it may be that somebody else is going to have to get on and order some groceries for you. You may have to start with sleep because fatigue and sleep deprivation are huge cues. 

You may have to start with turning off screens earlier and earlier in the evening before you can have enough mental clarity—because screens are there to also scramble your brains—that you could actually put in a chicken breast and some broccoli. We give people the option to use starches or not just to make a meal. Get a couple of scrambled eggs going. You may have to solve other problems before you can even start on the food.

But the thing that’s so cool is no matter how deep the cognitive impairment, the brain fog, the confused thinking, and the cravings, mirror neurons will take you there. The whole rest of the brain can be just so badly addicted and the cognitive impairment can be so severe you cannot think. Inflammation because these foods are inflammatory and they inflame the brain. The inflammation cuts off the ability to think. But through all that mess, through all that fog, mirror neurons are working. 

People would just be so surprised. I ordered groceries and I made clean meals. I have been trying to do that for 20 years. I did it today. I’ve only been in here two or three days but I did it today. I made clean meals today. I’ve been trying to do this for 20 years. What happened? Oh, see, you were on the Zoom. You were on the ARC all day Monday and Tuesday and so Wednesday you made clean meals. It’s just so incredible. 

It’s like you’ve been swimming in these rough cold seas for your entire life. And finally, the lifeboat came along and threw you a life preserver and somebody on the boat instructed you to grab onto the life preserver. When you got dragged over to the side of the boat you decided to get in. It’s so incredible, Ashley, now I’m crying here but it’s amazing to be able to get somebody to safety in just a few days.


[01:23:51] Ashley James: Yes. I’ve heard this quote several times from different people so I don’t know who came up with it originally, but whoever it is, mirror neurons describe it. You are the summary of the five people you spend the most time with.


[01:24:08] Dr. Joan Ifland: Yes, that’s exactly right.


[01:24:10] Ashley James: JLD is a podcaster, Entrepreneur on Fire, and he was one of the people I modeled learning different technical things about podcasting and editing. It was about six years ago when I was studying. It was six years ago so it’s December, so it has been six years. I started studying how to do podcasts and I looked to him as well as Andrew Warner of Mixergy. Those are my two biggest models. JLD, with almost every episode, would say, you are the summary of the top five people you spend time with, meaning it can also include the podcast you listen to, it can also include the content you are consuming, right?

As I’ve been listening to you, I’ve been thinking about reflecting on the last few years of my life because as I said in the intro, I’m on my own journey of overcoming my negative relationship with food and healing my body. I’ve healed my body from a lot of things. I used to have type 2 diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, chronic infections for which I was on constant antibiotics for, and I had polycystic ovarian syndrome. I was told by an endocrinologist after a battery of tests that I would never have kids, that I’ve conceived naturally twice. I don’t have diabetes anymore and don’t have chronic adrenal fatigue anymore.

For the last several years, I do not have polycystic ovarian syndrome, but I just got my blood work again because I do that bloodwork once or twice a year with my naturopath. Sure enough, there’s zero evidence of polycystic ovarian syndrome and yet it plagued me for over 20 years. If you go to an MD or an endocrinologist, they’ll say you have it for the rest of your life. It’s a falsehood just like diabetes, you don’t have to have those things.

What I’ve been working on is weight loss and my problem has been my liver. I couldn’t figure out why every time I went to do—I have done over 30 diets my entire life, and I’ve shared this on the podcast before. That has definitely negatively impacted my body and I’ve learned from that and learned about how it harms the metabolism, the body goes into freak-out mode. 

But even with healthy diets, when I started to lose weight healthfully, my liver would become inflamed and would stick out and become distended. You could actually see it pushing out. I went and got ultrasounds. What I finally figured out is that my phase two of liver detox is so gummed up, I have some genetic SNPs like MTHFR. So for me, in the last three or four years, I’ve been really working on heavy metal detoxification and lots of interviews about it. 

But since I started the podcast, my mirror neurons have really benefited from these interviews. They’re not video interviews, but I have found myself after an interview about food addiction or about healthful eating, eating to nurture the body, and eating to bring stability and balance to hormones or to emotions, I’ve always found myself making better and better choices and then celebrating those choices.

What really also helped me, because I’m just seeing this now, is that I did take a yearlong health coach training program through IIN, Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where it was videos but they were recorded videos of the audience and of the lecturer. Then they would break out and they would show the audience. I always felt like I was in the audience. I’d cry with everyone, I’d laugh with everyone. I felt like I was in the community and they were recorded videos. 

My food choices and my health choices like going to sleep at a better time or removing certain things that were not healthy, adding certain things that gave me vibrance, joy, and health, and activities that improved my health. All these little steps, every baby step I felt like was definitely easier. I felt like I was celebrating it with this community as I’m watching this video.

It makes so much sense that your Zoom calls live would create that sense. I can feel this warmness in my stomach, I can feel it even now in my body.


[01:29:07] Dr. Joan Ifland: Yes. You’re getting an oxytocin release.


[01:29:10] Ashley James: Right. Last year we had such a hard time, everyone did with COVID, but we have a child who is such an extrovert. He craves other children’s attention, and so I found a small community of moms—like-minded, very holistic. I called us crunchy moms with very holistic organic eaters, gluten-free, and all that kind of stuff. They all have kids and they all wanted to create a community where the kids can play freely in the parks. 

We’ve been doing that together for a year and a half now and I noticed that I’m almost addicted to going to the park and doing our weekly meetups because I feel so good in their presence. We just gab about whatever, give each other ideas, and share with each other.

But that sense of that oxytocin, that sense of community, there’s nothing like it. It’s just wonderful. I can totally see why your Zoom calls would be so quick to help people start to make better and better choices. 

Okay, so they step into the Zoom call, their mirror neurons are firing. It really does help them overcome the withdrawal, the physical withdrawal. Can you walk us through more of the biochemical or what’s happening in the brain when someone is stepping into these Zoom calls?


[01:30:38] Dr. Joan Ifland: So the dopamine is working better. Oxytocin actually works by supporting the dopamine system. If your dopamine system isn’t working at all, you get an oxytocin release that you will feel better for sure. Withdrawal avoidance is one of the reasons why people can’t get off particularly of the refined carbohydrates.

But one thing I hope all of your listeners know is that withdrawal from refined carbohydrates—so sugars, flours, and sweeteners—is four to eight days. People will get to day three and maybe their cravings intensify. Day four, their cravings are still just unbearable. Hang on because that is going to go away. We also encourage people to take that list very slowly. It might take a couple of years to get off of the seven major categories of addictive substances because they are affecting four different pathways.

The other thing to remember is that it only takes about three weeks for the dopamine receptors to open up again. People feel better within a couple of days because the pancreas is no longer pumping out vast amounts of insulin which is driving down blood sugar, which is releasing the adrenaline. So the anxiety levels start going down and getting better within a day or two or three or four. So people do start feeling calmer. They’ll say that. They’ll come on day two and say, wow, I can’t believe this just happened and I didn’t blow up. They begin to like themselves more. There’s a lot of self-hatred, self-blame, self-stigmatization.

We use a lot of science to explain to people what happened to them and disengage them from the mythology that the recovery industry, the therapeutic industry has created. Because when therapists can’t get on top of this addiction in their patients because they’re not giving the patient enough immersion recovery. I think there are 167 hours in a week. One hour versus 167 hours, you are not going to retrain 100 billion brain cells by that approach. You need hours and hours and hours per day. You need a residential level of recovery. 

Mirror neurons are watching other people get off of sugars and flours. We do have a pretty sophisticated method for managing the headache, the lethargy, the depression, the anxiety that comes with withdrawal. We know how to manage those and make it not quite so painful. It’s very important that withdrawal not be painful.


[01:33:57] Ashley James: Right, then you’re training the brain to not like it, to not like being off of those things like you said earlier. That makes so much sense.


[01:34:04] Dr. Joan Ifland: The cueing is so intense and the addictive brain cells are so sensitive, if you have a lapse, you want to be able to go straight back into withdrawal. You don’t want that lapse to drag on for days or even years. You want to have a lot of confidence, okay, I’m really good at managing withdrawal. I’m going to put the rest of this down the disposal and get back into withdrawal.

So yeah, it’s part of the training. I feel like the Addiction Recovery Community is a training community. What happens when children are born addicted is that they’re trying to get life skills through an addicted brain—an inflamed brain, a craving brain, a brain that’s impaired cognitively, and it just doesn’t happen.

I remember I said, oh, you know what, I’m going to start trying to describe all the skills that we teach in this community. The spreadsheet got longer and longer and longer. Finally, I sat back and I said why? Oh, it’s because it is one of the tenets of addiction that when the addiction starts, personality development stops. So if you started drinking at age 13, you have a different recovery than somebody who starts drinking heavily in their late 20s. You’ve just missed 15 years of personality development. Well, we never get any.

I’ve been in New York now for four years. I have a very, very traumatic upbringing. I had that raging mother, I had a raging father. I had a raging older sister. This is in the 1950s and already women were being positioned, oh, modern women use convenience foods. We had Crisco, cake mixes, Tang, juice concentrates, jelly, white bread, and Velveeta cheese. We had all those processed foods already in the 1950s. Now, we were skinny as rails because we didn’t have the 15-pound packages of potato chips in our house, but we had personality disorders. We were always fighting, all five of us.

I didn’t get life skills. Now, in the ARC, we lead with compassion. We lead with gentleness. We never tell our members what to do. We’re using a form of communication called motivational interviewing where we are listening carefully to the person’s strengths, the member’s strengths, and then we’re really discussing in detail their strengths. 

What’s happening there is you are literally rewiring the part of the brain that says I can’t do this. You’re rewiring that part of the brain that says I can do this. Look, everybody around me is doing this. I can do this of course, and you’ve got the cooperation and the collaboration of the mirror neurons to do that. It works like gangbusters. It is shocking how well it works.

Four years later, I’ve thrown off I don’t know what percentage of my parent’s’ negativity because their own self-confidence, self-esteem were so low they were using caffeine, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, and cigarettes every day—typical 1950s. He was a corporate executive, a Ph.D. biochemist, and a commander in the Navy, so he was a very authoritarian person. And then my mother was always drinking caffeine and sugar and she had that totally wacko emotional profile where you never knew—she could go from calm to belting you in 60 seconds.

So growing up in that kind of a traumatic household, I was carrying a tremendous amount of fear, self-loathing, and self-doubt. But over four years of being in the ARC, we do a lot of what we call ARC exercises where we rewire a brain and it’s so simple. It’s so incredibly simple. 

So an example would be what we call the because card. Because of ___ I used to ___, but now because of ___I ___. So when you say because of ___ I used to ___, you are opening up the synapse between two memory cells. And when you do that, you can put new information in there so that if the memory comes up, it doesn’t control behavior anymore. The new information controls behavior.

So if I say because I was addicted to processed foods I used to rage, but now that I have eliminated processed foods, toxic media, toxic behaviors, and toxic people I am calm in all circumstances. So if something should happen to trigger a memory of raging, instead of being pulled back into raging, no, there’s new information there. I am calm in all circumstances. It works. It’s incredible. It’s so simple. 

None of us are therapists. We’re not providing any therapy. We’re providing peer support, a structure, an environment, and a community in which people can get back in touch with how wonderful they are.

So the way advertising works is it wants to persuade us that we have a pain, there’s something wrong with us, and we need to buy a product to fix it. None of that is true. We are incredible. We’re spectacular. We have incredible resources inside of us. We need very little. We need shelter, transportation, clean food, and good company. It just works, but that is how you do it. We have members all over the world. It’s a 24 hour a day operation. That 15 hours of live programming is extended over 24 hours.


[01:40:47] Ashley James: I love it. Oh, it’s so exciting that you’re having these results. The question that’s been on my mind is because we talked about your recent work and all the work that led up to these breakthroughs. I’m really curious though, what was your thesis when you earned your Ph.D. in addictive nutrition?


[01:41:05] Dr. Joan Ifland: So it was to validate the DSM, that’s the Diagnostic Manual for Mental Illness. Addictions are considered a mental illness. It was to validate the DSM for diagnostic criteria for alcoholism, for overeating, and we did it right out of the box and went to go with a really small sample. I’m teary because I remember, I had to go to school for new fields to get that Ph.D. I went to Union Institute & University in Cincinnati. The way it works is you have to collect faculty from other schools because you’re in a new field so there’s no existing faculty.

I got the greatest people to work with me. Yeah, it was only 64 people. We got statistical significance, no problem. These characteristics of alcoholism are running rampant in overeaters.


[01:42:16] Ashley James: Where would the food addiction field be if it wasn’t for your work?


[01:42:26] Dr. Joan Ifland: Oh, Ashley. Oh, dear. It would still be in the dark ages. I have to tell you this little story if you don’t mind.


[01:42:41] Ashley James: I’d love to hear it.


[01:42:46] Dr. Joan Ifland: I have to think about how old I was, but  mid-60s, how in the world do I carve out three years full time to research and write? The textbook is 240,000 words. It’s built on 2000 studies. I wrote 70% of it and I persuaded other scientists to write the other 30% and I edited the other 30%. I persuaded food addiction practitioners to co-write the chapters on behaviors. It was just such a confluence of factors.

My dad died in 2014, the same year that CRC Press came to me and asked me to write the textbook. One of my failed attempts to get other people to recover was a prepared meal company. There I was in Houston spending my divorce settlement to run this company. I thought, just give people clean food. They’ll feel so great they’ll want to continue, which is like saying to an alcoholic, oh listen, I’m just going to give you this nice clean water. Just drink this water in place of the alcohol, you’ll see how great you feel, and then you’ll just want to do it.


[01:44:10] Ashley James: I love your intentions, though. I think they were the best of intentions, but like you’ve outlined, it’s not that simple. It’s not a matter of just making good food choices. I mean, that’s like saying to all the people that have a food addiction, why don’t you just eat healthy? You know what to eat, just eat fruits and vegetables. Just go eat healthier.


[01:44:32] Dr. Joan Ifland: Why didn’t I think of that?


[01:44:34] Ashley James: There’s so much, like you said, stigma and shame around it.


[01:44:41] Dr. Joan Ifland: There’s all this mythology.


[01:44:42] Ashley James: Mythology, yes.


[01:44:44] Dr. Joan Ifland: All this insanity, this confusion. People have made up stories about what’s going on for they’re not—I’m not going to say this. I was going to say for their profit. But I know my daughter, my MD daughter, I have a daughter who’s an MD. She’s also an MBA, fortunately, because she finally said to me one day, mom, I cannot fix people in an eight-minute office visit, and I’m not going to spend the rest of my life trying. She has now left practice. She’s now a full-time consultant. She’s a well-intentioned person, and she left behind in her clinic well-intentioned doctors. The whole system is set up so that the only thing that doctor can do is be a marketing person for the pharmaceutical industry.


[01:45:40] Ashley James: They’re trained drug dealers, and like you said, MDs are not bad people. Inherently, they’re good people. The system is corrupt that it has been since its birth, and that’s why it’s so good to go back and study the history of the modern medical system and see that from day one, the universities that teach the medical schools, the pharmaceutical companies have been funding them and have been controlling what they can do. 

All of that is designed to keep out real cures. Doctors who’ve come up with systems that have actually cured cancer more successfully than the cut, burn, and poison method have been run off to other countries basically time and time again.

You’re not allowed to have a cure. One of my mentors, he’s in his late 80s. I’m not sure how old exactly, but I think it’s 86. Thirty-five, 40 years ago, around then, he worked at Yerkes Primate Research Institute. He has multiple degrees. He’s a pathologist. He’s a veterinarian. He’s a naturopathic physician now, but he started out as a large animal vet and then was into the research. He’s written many papers.

He discovered by accident the cause and cure for cystic fibrosis. Other pathologists confirm his findings. He brought it to the Yerkes Primate Research Institute, and they fired him and blacklisted him from the research field. He went back to his alma mater and was going to be a professor. He was unpacking and the dean came in and showed him a letter that said that the university would lose all their funding if he would remain there because he discovered a cure that basically, in one generation, we could completely stop and never again have cystic fibrosis.

Get this, it’s a selenium deficiency in utero, just like neural tube defects are caused by folate. Well, we know that. He also discovered, at the moment of conception, zinc deficiency causes Down syndrome, and selenium deficiency can also cause muscular dystrophy, it depends. It causes one or the other. A lot of his research was around nutrient deficiency in utero and the diseases it causes, but all of it was completely suppressed. He fought and fought and fought and fought and all the doors were closed because that would have cost the pharmaceutical companies billions.

Now, your daughter, the MD, is not taught this. She’s taught how to prescribe drugs. She’s not taught that there’s a cure and that there’s a way to prevent these illnesses in the first place because MDs are not trained in this.


[01:48:39] Dr. Joan Ifland: She’s taught that everything you’ve just described is quackery. It’s very bad out there. Well, anyway, my dad died and CRC Press appeared at the same time, and he left me enough income. My stepmom was living in Cincinnati, so I moved from Houston back to Cincinnati to get her through the end of her life. I walked into the first apartment I looked at—a beautiful little tiny apartment overlooking the Ohio River. 

Three years, I turned in the manuscript and my stepmother died, and I moved out here in Seattle. But it was just like the universe cleared out three years of my life where I could sit full time and write and edit that textbook.

Today, anybody who says, oh, it’s so controversial. They are lying. You just open the textbook and there are 2000 citations. Why is there so much research on this? It’s because of the amount of research on obesity, eating disorders, and drug addiction. We have brain imaging technology, we know exactly what an addicted brain looks like. Overeaters’ brains are addicted brains. All that obesity and eating disorder research is actually describing aspects of the addiction diagnosis.

The addiction diagnosis is 11 behaviors. Its unintended use, failure to cut back, time spent, cravings, unfulfilled roles, relationship problems, activities given up, hazardous use, use despite knowledge of consequences, tolerance or progression, and its withdrawal. All of those things are used to diagnose alcoholism and they are all rife. They’re everywhere in overeating.


[01:50:51] Ashley James: One thing I’d like to clarify because we use the term overeating. Like you said, you guys were skinny when you grew up, but it would have been considered food addiction. Some people overeat and are obese, but my mother was never obese. Sometimes she’d say she’s 15 pounds overweight. I think she was five. She’d point to her tummy and she had a little tiny pooch that could not have been more than the size of a kitten. She was always a size six, just a very, very fit woman. She did step classes. She was kind of addicted to exercise and really controlling food. And then, like I said, she then had these side projects of sugar that she had to dig into secretly.

And then there was alcohol every night socially. My parents would split a bottle or two of wine. So there were these things, which also leads to the sugar going up and down. A lot of times, there are similarities between bipolar and sugar spiker. It’s really important to understand oneself and also one’s partner in life. 

My husband, and I’ve said this on the show before, he gave me permission to say this. We noticed that every single argument we’ve ever had—I mean, I’m not perfect. In arguments where he’s being irrational and I’m calm and he’s freaking out, I’m like, why are you doing this? We figured out it was low blood sugar. That’s when we really started to dig into—this is 2014. 

I said, okay, but at the time, he had chosen to be a vegan. He’s now a vegan, but back then, so let me scramble you some eggs and then let’s talk in 20 minutes. He’d eat some eggs and two minutes later and he’s like, I don’t know why. He said to me, I feel like Jekyll and Hyde. I’m watching myself and I can’t even control myself being that way, being so nasty, and he’s not nasty. He’s a very sweet and loving person, but when he’s low blood sugar, watch out.


[01:53:01] Dr. Joan Ifland: That’s exactly why I got into this field 26 years ago. It’s personality.


[01:53:09] Ashley James: I think the term overeating is people go, well, I don’t overeat. I don’t overeat at all. I’m not fat. Maybe you could just distinguish the difference between overeating, emotional eating. There’s binge eating, right? There’s binging, but they all fall into the category of food addiction, is that correct?


[01:53:33] Dr. Joan Ifland: Yes. I think the American Psychiatric Association, which is the author, of course, of this Diagnostic Manual, they cannot get their brains wrapped around the idea that processed food addiction exists, so they’ve tried to describe other syndromes.

Let’s just take binge eating disorder. It’s very interesting but binging is not a requirement. The word binging does not appear in any of the diagnostic criteria for addictions for any kind of addiction. How did the American Psychiatric Association decide how to diagnose an addiction? It’s through behaviors. 

So when you don’t have your frontal lobe and the addicted brain cells are controlling behavior, very specific things happen. You have relationship problems. You start dropping activities because you’d rather go home and use. You have relationship problems for the reasons that you just described. You have this Jekyll and Hyde personality. You can’t fulfill your roles because you’re too tired, drunked, drugged up, or passed out from processed foods, so you have behaviors.

As it turns out, the first four criteria are things that are going on inside the person. You have a plan to use a certain amount and you don’t follow the plan. That’s unintended use. You’ve tried to cut back, and this is again where you see prevalence. So over 70% of Americans are overweight or obese. They don’t want to be that way. They’ve tried to cut back and failed. This is something else you would have to see. We’d have to see really widespread prevalence. 

Time spent. They might stop at three fast food places on their way home from work. And then when they do get home, they might go back out in the evening and get more grocery items. Cravings, everybody has cravings. Cravings are so prevalent that people don’t even know that it’s possible to not have them. You have it starting inside the person with those first four, and then in the next three, you have it affecting their behaviors—failure to fulfill roles, relationship problems, and activities given up. 

And then the last four are measuring progression. It’s getting worse. You are getting sick from it. You use in spite of knowledge of consequences is a very common manifestation of addiction. You know you shouldn’t be. You start to say it, I know I shouldn’t, but, and then you go and use it. That’s a sign of an addiction. Eating more of a substance, you see that over the years and the manufacturers are just making larger and larger containers of these substances. 

And then withdrawal. You’ll see people using processed foods, not because they’re hungry, it’s because they’re tired, they’re irritable, they’re anxious, they’re depressed, or they’re foggy. Those are withdrawal avoidance. They have a headache, they have a stomachache, they’re lethargic, they’re bored, or they can’t think. Those are withdrawal avoidance.

This is how you decide, and you’re right, I say overeaters, but they’re people who are using processed foods in those 11 ways. You’re right, 20% of diabetics are not overweight. Twenty percent of people accumulate fat around their organs and not under their skin, you can’t see it. But the way the American Psychiatric Association trains psychiatrists and therapists of all varieties to tell whether the person in front of them is suffering under an addiction, they ask those 11 questions. That’s how you know, and it’s not a weight issue.

In fact, thin people who have food addiction are more traumatized in some ways because they have sought help from the health professionals and the doctors or whoever just look at them and say, you don’t have a problem. Get out of here. They are being traumatized right in front of their very eyes. 

I don’t know if your listeners would relate to this phenomenon, but I call it the robot. The remote control robot phenomenon where your frontal lobe is screaming, no, no, no, no. But the addicted brain cells in the midbrain have control over behavior. Like a robot or like a zombie, you are walking to the kitchen, out to the car to go for fast food. You’re two different people. It’s terrifying to have that experience, and thin people have that experience.


[01:59:24] Ashley James: I’m so excited about your program. The more I think about how someone could plug themselves in and get those mirror neurons firing, get the oxytocin of community firing to their advantage to help them overcome it is amazing. 

Little things that I’ve seen work for me is I order my grocery. Now, I love going to the grocery store like picking up my own fresh produce. It’s not that I don’t like going to the grocery store. But what I noticed is I’ll add a bunch of stuff to my cart online, then I’ll stare at the cart, and I’ll ask myself with each item, do I really need this? I get to slow down. I kind of have that internal dialogue. Because what you described that robot, for me it’s more like a possession, right? It’s like an entity, like a satanic possession trying to force you, overcoming your own consciousness to do bad to you. 

So I look at that list of foods and I’m like, okay, I’ve got my vegetables there, and then, oh, wait, okay. I’m going to say cookies. I don’t add cookies, but I can’t think of something bad at the moment. Okay, there are those cookies there. I’m like, do I need that? Do I really need that? How am I going to feel after I eat that? Does that really serve me? Does that really help me and my family? Because whatever I’m buying everyone’s eating. And then I hit the delete button. 

Then there’ll be that, no, wait, you’ll… And then the fear of missing out, that FOMO kicks like, you’ll feel bad if you don’t. You’ll regret not having it in your cart. You’ll regret it. It’s like a conversation I have with myself.


[02:01:08] Dr. Joan Ifland: It’s a battle.


[02:01:09] Ashley James: It is, it’s a battle.


[02:01:10] Dr. Joan Ifland: It is a battle between the addicted brain cells and the frontal lobe. People don’t realize that different cortices of the brain can battle each other. And that addicted cortex, it does not want to give up control, and it’ll keep coming back. It sleeps with one eye open, and it will never go away. That programming is there permanently. This is something that we have to protect ourselves against for the rest of our lives.

The thing is, it’s not just food addiction, it’s screen addiction, and it’s porno addiction. The addiction will happily slide over to some other source—shopping, addiction, gambling, whether it’s a behavior addiction like a process addiction or whether it’s a substance abuse like alcohol, prescription drugs, or any of the other recreational drugs, it’ll happily slide around. This is something else that we’re very aware of in our community. We are creating a very fundamental foundation of self-regard, self-respect, and from that self-caring, self-likings, self-loving. From that comes the urge to protect ourselves. So we’re starting in the right place.


[02:02:27] Ashley James: Your work is tremendous. If it wasn’t for you, we would be in the dark ages still, like you said, with understanding food addiction and understanding what’s going on in the brain and really acknowledging it, and taking the stigma away. There are so many people needlessly suffering. 

We need not look farther than the statistics of disease. In the United States alone and every other country tends to follow. We’re the worst in the United States. We really are, it’s unfortunate. The United States spends the most money in the world on “healthcare” and yet it’s the worst for many outcomes.

We have to acknowledge that this system is broken and we need to take ownership of our health. That’s why you’re listening. Anyone who’s listening is taking ownership of their health, not waiting to get sick, and then go to a doctor to be given a drug. They’re taking ownership of their health. If it wasn’t for you, we would still be stuck in the dark ages when it comes to understanding how processed food, there is an addiction. It is designed to be addictive like cigarettes. 

Literally, the cigarette companies went, well, how are we going to use addiction in other places, right? It’s just phenomenal. So thank you for the work that you do. Thank you for the groundbreaking work that you do. I’m so excited for our listeners to check out, which is your website. It provides free evidence-based handouts, and then you have as well.


[02:04:13] Dr. Joan Ifland: Hang on. The best place to go is That’s the hub of all of our other websites. Go there, take the self-quiz to see if you’re experiencing the signs of processed food addiction, then sign up for the free information, and just get on our email list. Then you can start to consider the programs that we have.


[02:04:41] Ashley James: Awesome. I’d love to have you back on the show at some point to continue sharing. It sounds like you’re constantly learning. You’re tapped into the research when it comes to the brain and all the latest research. Your community, which started in 2018 and it’s just taken off, and you’re seeing that people, within three days of being in the community, are able to finally start to cook healthy foods. Just that oxytocin in that community is helping them overcome the four- to eight-day withdrawal period. So I’m very excited about that. It’s Everything that Dr. Joan Ifland does is going to be the show notes of today’s podcast at Is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview?


[02:05:33] Dr. Joan Ifland: Yes. This is not your fault. These are things that were done to you for profit. This is not your fault, not the weight regain, not the loss of control, not the hiding, not the binging, not the weight, not the diet-related disease, none of this is your fault. It requires a lot of skill-building and training to get out of it, but it’s not your fault. It’s not because of your child’s issues. It’s because you have an addiction to substances.


[02:06:11] Ashley James: And through Joan’s program, I’m very excited that she’s getting results, and you can get results too. I love that there’s a supportive community that can help you. I’m excited to check it out as well. 

I like to say, keep your mind so open your brain can fall out, right? I’m an open-minded skeptic. Try everything. Try everything. Obviously, you have to go but try everything. I’m all about growing. It sounds like your community helps people to learn new life skills. If I can figure out where my personality stopped developing because of addiction, I don’t know what age. I’ve seen it in others, but we have blinders to our own self, right? So it’s easy to see in others, we can’t see it ourselves. But if I could learn more new life skills to grow, I’m all for it. Thank you so much for coming on the show.


[02:07:06] Dr. Joan Ifland: Thanks for having me. This was amazing. Truly amazing, Ashley. You’re a gifted podcaster.


[02:07:13] Ashley James: Thank you. I really appreciate that and I can’t wait to have you back.


[02:07:16] Dr. Joan Ifland: All right, take care.


[02:07:18] Ashley James: Awesome. That’s a wrap. How do you feel it went?


[02:07:21] Dr. Joan Ifland: Oh my God. This might be the best interview I’ve ever done. I don’t cry very often during interviews, but there’s something about your understanding and your own knowledge that made it safe for me to feel my emotions in this situation. We are saving lives.


[02:07:44] Ashley James: You’re saving lives. You are saving lives.


[02:07:47] Dr. Joan Ifland: Yeah. And saving people from really, really painful lives. We’re not just preventing them from dying. We’re also preventing them from missing out on their lives.


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Especially, if you’re experiencing more stress or if you’ve gone through an illness like an infection, that takes more resources. So if you’re not consuming more vitamin C, more of all the 16 vitamins, and all the 60 minerals when you’re going through more stress either physical stress, emotional stress, mental stress, those stressors take more nutrients to survive those bumps in the road in life. Over time, that whittles away. That depletes our nutrient tanks, our stores in our body. Without these 90 essential nutrients, things start to break down. 

Now, you’ve experienced these breakdowns. Maybe you get migraines, maybe you’re exhausted, maybe your hormones are out of balance, your digestion is out of balance, or you have some aches and pains. Maybe you’ve even been diagnosed with something. You have a series of symptoms and if those symptoms all look like something, then we can diagnose it right? That’s what MDs can do. MDs will treat these breakdowns with drugs and mask your symptoms. But if your body has a nutrient deficiency, no amount of drugs will fix the problem.

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Processed Food Addiction

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Sabrina Zielinski, otherwise known as Mama Z, is the co-author of The Essential Oil Apothecary. Mama Z has created allergy-friendly food recipes and do-it-yourself remedies featured on Natural Living Family. In today’s episode, she gives some tips and advice on living a healthier life. She also shares how they incorporate the Bible in their health and wellness journey.



Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Today we have with us. Sabrina Zielinski, otherwise known as Mama Z. Really excited for her to share some very fascinating stories with you, as well as recipes using a type of herbal medicine called essential oils in your life and powerful ways to support you day-to-day.

Now, Sabrina and I had a really beautiful heart-to-heart talk in this interview, after which she asked for my mailing address and she sent me the most beautiful care package, so I have to thank her for what she sent. She sent me a big bag with all of her own recipes that she makes in her kitchen for her family, and she talks about a lot of these recipes on the show today, so you’re going to get a treat. But all the recipes that are in her book, and I highly recommend getting this book. This is a great book to get for Christmas. 

So go to That’s as in essential oil. That just makes it easy to get to right now. So you can go to That takes you to a special landing page on Sabrina’s website. Her and her husband, Dr. Zielinski, who I’ve had on the show as well. They write these books together. She brings in the perspective of a mom of several beautiful children. So she’s got this wonderful homemaker aspect raising kids, and all of the problems, all the dilemmas to solve using that from upset tummies, to trouble sleeping, to needing more energy, needing less energy, just across the board, bumps, bruises, and scrapes, and all the different things all different ways that you could use essential oils in your life.

We do talk about the emotional aspect of how essential oils can be used. I myself have had quite a roller coaster this year, as many of you have. So just processing and creating healthy strategies for managing, dealing with, being in, and working through emotions of grief, loss, stress, anxiety, and all the emotions that we are facing for some of us during these difficult times. This has been one of the most difficult years of my life, and she shared with me different essential recipes that can help.

Now, it’s not a cure-all, but this is something that if you learn to use essential oils on a daily basis, and her latest book teaches you. It’s an apothecary that teaches you from A to Z how you can use essential oils in all aspects of your life to help you improve the quality of your life, and that’s why I love her books. So go to and check it out. When you go to that link. There’s a ton of freebies and stuff. They’re so generous.

So like I said, she sent me this big, and she even embroidered my name on the bag. I was really taken aback and just in awe of her generous nature. So what was in the bag were a bunch of really popular recipes that’s in her book that she uses on a daily basis with her kids, with herself. There’s a handmade, non-toxic hand sanitizer that has essential oils and aloe in it. There’s a room spray for sleep, and that has helped me so much now. 

I have a fairly good sleep, but you know when you’re under high stress, and I’ve been at times in this last year under high stress. The cortisol levels are running high even late at night, and using that room spray and it’s a combination of different essential oils that really helped to bring down the adrenals, calm the nervous system, and prepare for sleep. My husband enjoys the smell as well, so that has been really nice. And then there were a bunch of different salves for pain, for sleep, for comfort, for emotional stress, all the things I had shared with her that I was going through.

I loved her big gift bag so much and it really touched my heart. The quality that I got from the different gifts are all her recipes that are in her books, so that’s why I’m just so excited to share with you. I really think that if you get her book and you actually make some of her recipes yourself, you’ll really enjoy it because I really enjoyed what she shared with me.

Having said that, I want to thank you. Thank you for being a listener. Thank you for sharing this podcast with those you care about. This is an episode to share with your friends who love essential oils and also for your friends who are open to learning more about how they can incorporate herbal medicine in a safe way. 

That’s another thing I really like about Dr. Zielinski and his wife Sabrina is that they really take the time to outline how to use essential oils in a healthy way. They don’t align themselves with any one company. There are so many essential brands out there, but they do tell you—and we talk about this in our previous episodes—how to pick an essential oil, how to pick one that is high quality, and they definitely explain what to look for in an essential oil company, regardless of where you’re buying it from because there’s so many on the market.

I always want to go for the ones that are the purest, organic obviously, and have the strongest medicinal qualities, as do you. So they explain how to use them safely. Things not to do, things to do. There are certain essential oils that are not safe for pets, that are not safe for babies or children. These things we need to know. If you know how to use them in a safe way, then they can really enrich your life.

So go to, check out their book. Enjoy today’s interview. It’s a really beautiful story, and you will see how big her heart is. I know you’re going to love my guest today. She’s such a big heart, and they have a fantastic community that you can plug into and we talked about that as well. If you want to keep learning from her after this interview, definitely go to and sign up for their community as well because they really take the time to educate and to spread this information in such a compassionate way. I really appreciate that about them. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and enjoy today’s interview.


[00:07:16] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 470. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have with us Sabrina Ann Zielinski, otherwise known as Mama Z. 

Now, we’ve had your husband on the show, Dr. Zielinski, a few times, and what I love is that you guys take essential oils and teach us how to use them safely and effectively. What most people don’t know about essential oils is that they’re the most potent and concentrated form of herbal medicine. So you don’t need a lot, it’s very powerful. Yes, essential oils, when you use high grade, medicinal quality, and use them correctly, it is very potent, powerful, cathartic herbal medicine. 

We have to remember that drug-based medicine was created to mimic herbs. So herbs were the first form of drugs for thousands of thousands of years. And then chemists came along and said, well, let’s patent something and let’s try to make a man-made version of this. So willow bark being what they mimic aspirin out of. Aspirin can kill you if you take too much, whereas willow bark, because it has all of the different components within nature. God is so intelligent that if you took too much willow bark, there’s a component in it that before you take too much to the point of killing you, you would start vomiting and you wouldn’t be able to keep it in you.

Herbs, when in their natural form, for most of them, have sort of a safety mechanism to prevent us from going too far overboard. Whereas drugs, as we know, don’t. With anything in nature or manmade, we need to make sure that we’re doing it safely so that we could get the medicinal effect without harming ourselves, and that’s why I love, love, love Sabrina, I love what you do, and I love what your husband does. You guys write these books together and your latest book, which is the Essential Oils Apothecary. 

Now, the link to your latest book, I have a little redirect to make it easy, as in essential oil. So will take you straight to their website to purchase the book and check out all of the cool videos, articles, and just amazing resources on the website. I’m really excited to have you here today because my understanding is you are the essential oils expert. You introduced your husband, Dr. Zielinski, to essential oils. 

The two of you really help so many people detox, balance hormones, mental and emotional issues, I mean, the list goes on and on. We’re going to get into it. You’re going to teach us recipes and stuff today, but I love that you’re helping us learn how we can introduce essential oils into every aspect of our life to help uplift us and help us achieve our health and wellness goals. So welcome to the show.


[00:10:33] Sabrina Zielinski: Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here. And yes, using essential oils, the concentrated plant-based medicine, and some people don’t realize, it’s even more powerful to use less because when you’re using it with a carrier oil and whatnot, then it spreads throughout the body and it’s not evaporating. So you get more surface area, you get more penetration into your blood vessels, all of that stuff, and it’s all important. I’m excited to tell you how I got Dr. Z turned on to essential oils. He thought it was just smelly stuff underneath the sink.

Back when I was in the sixth grade, I had gone to my grandma’s house, she had well water. I had bought two over-the-counter products for my face, and they were obviously chemically-based. They had a reaction with her well water, and it literally left a huge chemical burn on my face. It was three-plus levels of skin deep, some places more. And it was completely from under my eyes all the way down to my chin. It was a complete scabbing over my entire face. And my mom—


[00:11:53] Ashley James: Oh my gosh.


[00:11:54] Sabrina Zielinski: I know, it was crazy. And especially at that time in your life, it’s one of those things where you don’t forget that. At school, because I went to a public school, kids are mean. I had to wear a lot of makeup and then come home and literally soak my face just to allow the scabs to come off because of all the makeup. It was just terrible. But my mom’s best friend was an Ojibwe Indian, and she had taught me and got me my first essential oil kit in the sixth grade. It was a Christmas gift, she gave me a book of aromatherapy, and it came with three essential oils. I know it was lavender; peppermint; and eucalyptus, tea tree, or something like that.


[00:12:45] Ashley James: Those are gateway essential oils. Lavender and peppermint were my first two essential oils, and then the eucalyptus was shortly thereafter. That’s so great. There are so many applications for those three, it’s pretty amazing.


[00:13:08] Sabrina Zielinski: It is. And so when my face had burned off like that, I sent myself right to the research looking for anything that would help, and of course, we know that vitamin A and E helped to feed the weave of the collagen and elastin under the skin.   I really started, before I knew what I was developing, and using the essential oils, I was using those things on my face with the lavender because I knew it would help calm it down. I used aloe vera, and eventually, years later, I ended up coming up with the skin healing serum, which I’ll share today. My dad ended up using it to help heal skin cancer.

It healed my face, and it was more for me because there were lots of scars, so I needed not just the face to be healed, but also the scarring. Within six months, everything was completely gone. I had terrible marks on my face, you would never know that today. Thank God for that, of course. But I grew up using essential oils, teas, tinctures, and all of those things. We would exercise our lymphatic system. In front of the TV. We would switch our legs back and forth to crisscross them just to make sure if we were not feeling well that we were moving stuff in and out of our body quickly.

When I met Eric, he just thought that I had this smelly stuff under the sink. And even having our first home birth, I used all essential oils and my mom’s best friend came up with oils for every phase of labor. Once to prep the house, once for afterward, once for healing, so we came up with my birth blends. And every single important phase of my life she would come up with different blends. I grew up making my own blends and doing all of those things, and he just thought it was smelly stuff until he had to start writing research regarding essential oils. And then he’d come home and go, oh my gosh, did you know that this did this and this did that? And I’m like, yeah, I did.


[00:15:35] Ashley James: Why did he have to start writing research?


[00:15:37] Sabrina Zielinski: He had taken the research route with his doctorate, and he had started a writing business because the writing was in his past as well. Once he started the writing business, one of his clients needed research articles on essential oils because they were going to be using it all over their website. So it was all topically based, and he was a ghostwriter for essential oil topics. But it was so funny because he thinks he just found out who hung the moon, and I’d be like, I know. That’s why I have this recipe or that’s why I have this recipe. So it was super fun to work it out with him, of course.


[00:16:30] Ashley James: I love it. When I was a teenager, I had summer jobs since I was 11. Mom thought it was a really good idea to have a strong work ethic, and I didn’t even care about the money. I just love that I got the experience. It was just for me, that was fun.

So one of the jobs that I repeat that I came back every summer, and I had several jobs during the summer. I was kind of a workaholic as a kid, but it was fun. It was like seven days a week. One of my jobs was working at an all-natural day spa up in Muskoka Ontario called Beauty Comes Naturally, and it’s a cute turn of phrase because it’s all-natural products. You go for your aesthetics but you’re using all-natural products. 

There are these smelly oils. I thought nothing of it. I’m about 15 years old. One day, I woke up and I had a stomach bug and I cannot go to work. I’m throwing up, I have a fever. I’m just really, really crummy. I’m in bed and my mom calls my boss and tells her. My boss says, come over and get these two oils and go home with them. 

My mom brings these oils home and I remember lying in bed. I’m just miserable. And she takes olive oil because it’s the only oil we had in the house, we used that as a carrier oil, she rubs lavender on my chest and my stomach, and then she makes a pot of hot water from the coffeemaker and puts one drop of peppermint in the entire pot and has me inhale it and sip it. Well, the moment I started inhaling it and sipping it, I stopped throwing up. My nausea goes away. I’m done throwing up. I fall into a deep, deep sleep, and when I wake up, my fever has broken. By the next day, I was back at work and I was fine.

I was such a believer from that moment on. So then my boss hands me a bunch of CDs to listen to and books to read. I became such a huge believer of essential oils that everyone that walked into the spa, the moment they walked in, I was like, oh, you got to come over here and smell this. This does that, this does that, and sample this. I ended up being the number one salesperson for the essential oils just because I was so passionate about it and I was excited. I was excited about their health benefits.

The last time I had your husband on the show, when I interviewed him, I was still pregnant. This was the beginning of March, and I actually just published his episode. When I was interviewing him, he was sharing one thing that you guys do to lift spirits, and that is orange and vanilla blend. 

Well, as many listeners know, I lost our daughter during childbirth. We don’t know why. We think maybe her cord got impinged right as she was coming out, but she was alive right until she came out. That was devastating to me and to my husband obviously. I’ve been dealing with recovering from postpartum, also recovering from grief, and moving through my grief. 

Then, a few days later, I got COVID, and then a month later, we had to pack up our house that we lived in for seven years and move. It’s been like bang, bang, bang, bang. Working through all these emotions, I notice that there are days when I feel the grief and the sadness, and I feel the overwhelm. So I turn on my diffuser and I put in the wild orange because that’s what I have. I haven’t found vanilla yet, but I have wild orange and I put that in. Clary sage is another one that’s one of my favorites.

But during our birth, I also was using essential oils. One thing I wanted to share is I was really excited to breastfeed and I was so happy that my milk came in, but also very sad because our daughter had died and I couldn’t breastfeed. My midwife was really nervous that I would develop mastitis because here I am, I’m sick in bed grieving and recovering being postpartum, then all sudden COVID, and now my milk has come in. She was just worried that on top of everything else, my body is so taxed. On top of everything else, she was really worried I would get mastitis. 

I remember reading that jasmine essential oil can actually stop milk, and so with a carrier oil, I used Jasmine essential oil and it immediately, like that same day, my milk would decrease so significantly that within days it had shut off and I felt a difference.

So I want to say, there are times when we wouldn’t want to use jasmine oil when you want to have your milk come in and be healthy. But if you need to turn it off in a safe way to prevent mastitis, like if you’re done nursing or if you’re in my position, then I was so impressed with how quickly jasmine oil turned off the manufacturing of breast milk.


[00:22:08] Sabrina Zielinski: And just the opposite, before you go into labor, it helps to drop in your milk supply until the baby’s born and then it does the opposite. It’s incredible. The last two weeks of pregnancy, I’ve never seen a due date for me. I’m always really, really late.


[00:22:36] Ashley James: I don’t understand having a due date thing. I mean, I think this is just a bunch of men made this up. I mean, I do not think women doctors got around and made up this whole idea of a due date. I think it’s totally made up by men. Listen, I love you, men, but butt out of women’s health because this idea that we’re supposed to give birth at 40 weeks is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t remember the statistics, but it was something like 70% something of births are 41+ weeks. This whole idea of 40 weeks is the cutoff and anything else is considered “late” is completely ridiculous.

My aunt who’s 85 I think or 86, oh no, is she in her 90s? Oh my gosh, my aunt, I love her, I love her to death. She’s amazing and she gave birth to two amazing guys who are just so wonderful. But both of them were close to four weeks. She baked them for a very long time.


[00:23:35] Sabrina Zielinski: My last one, 10 ½ months and I’m not joking. We conceived him January 4th, he was born October 17th, so that wasn’t even considering the two weeks where the egg comes down and stuff. But yeah, sometimes there’s just a different clock going on there.


[00:23:56] Ashley James: Right. So in the last part of your pregnancy, you don’t exactly know when real labor is kicking in, but you use jasmine essential oil. You used it the whole last trimester? At what point are you going to start to use it?


[00:24:12] Sabrina Zielinski: No, 38 weeks. Thirty eight weeks I use jasmine and clary sage together, it helps to drop in the milk supply. But as soon as you have the baby, you can’t use jasmine, just sage oil, or anything that has sage in it. Sage will dry your milk up immediately. So you can’t have turkey stuffing because that usually has Italian seasoning or sage in it. You always have to be mindful. So for me, because I do organic gardening, I have to make sure I have gloves on even tending the garden with all the sage plants that I have. Because I have a variety of different sage plants outside. It’s very interesting, and it really does work.

It’s amazing because it also helps to facilitate labor if your body’s ready. Well, my body, for whatever reason, never seems to be ready at any kind of 38 weeks. It’s like yeah, no, we’ll talk to you a little later. But this time, I had had COVID at six to eight weeks in utero, and it calcified the placenta, but we didn’t know it at the time. And so any upper respiratory infection would have done that, but we had no idea because we kept just checking with my backup care and whatnot, so it was a little crazy.

Between my third and my fourth baby, I had a molar pregnancy. It’s an improper duplication of twins. The baby instead of two, it’s one with 69 chromosomes. We had no idea that anything was wrong or anything, and then I had massive amounts of hair falling out. We’re talking I got up off the couch and there was like a ponytail’s worth of hair on the couch. I thought, man, I remember I’d lose a little extra hair there during pregnancy, but not like that. Then I started hemorrhaging.

When we found out that it was a molar pregnancy, I had been pregnant for a full three months. It messes up your thyroid, it turns your body into hyperthyroid, And then it’s also a precancerous condition. You have to do whatever you can to get down to zero hCG. Some people have had to use chemotherapy. Well, that would never happen over here.


[00:26:48] Ashley James: Wait a second, what?


[00:26:50] Sabrina Zielinski: Yes. I don’t know if you remember there was a show called The Little People, and the lady had a molar pregnancy. So if you have a partial molar pregnancy that a baby was present, if you don’t, if you had no baby present, then it’s a full molar pregnancy. We had already seen the fetal pole and whatnot, so we knew that mine was a partial, but your pregnancy continues on even after the baby’s gone. The hCG grows just not at the same rate. it’s supposed to double every two days. Instead, it grows at a very interesting rate.

It’s giant masses of cysts in there. They told me it would probably be a year before my hCG would go to zero. But it was only six weeks doing this the natural way, believe it or not. But you have to balance your thyroid, I had to balance my hormones, and I also had to balance the emotions and all of the other stuff because, obviously, it was a loss as well. You’re just getting done with the first trimester thinking, okay, well, we’ve made it through the first trimester, we’re good to go, and no, we weren’t.

So I was able to balance the thyroid, balance the emotions, and go down to zero hCG in six weeks, and they told me it’d be a year. So we used the essiac tea, and then we used clary sage, geranium, and ylang-ylang to help with balancing those emotions and all of that stuff. And then with the thyroid, we had to get right in there because it’s interesting how the thyroid works, especially with essential oils.

If you have dysfunction, you’re going to use clove, and then you want to add myrrh and lemongrass, and then also peppermint if you have the imbalance, but it works both directions. So you’ve got something that helps with hyper and something that helps with hypo, and they work together to balance everything out, which is amazing. I combined those essential oils together and use six to eight drops total for every one ounce of carrier oil. I purposely love to use a blend of different carrier oils because one of the things that I found is that when you use the different viscosities of oil, it goes to the different depths of your skin.

So I use 54 ounces of coconut oil, 16 ounces of almond oil, 8 ounces of jojoba, and 4 ounces of vitamin E, and I use pure vitamin E now. If you have other things going on with your body, you can always add shea nut oil, especially in the wintertime to keep it liquid. You can add rosehip seed oil, your natural vitamin A, and you can add other things to it. If you have allergies, you can always make changes, but that’s my basis for my carrier oil, which we call Mama Z’s oil base. I find that it’s super effective especially with balancing the thyroid and the hormones.

Now, just like you mentioned, the orange and vanilla, that’s what we call our joyful blend, and absolutely so powerful. You can use a CO2 vanilla, you can use a vanilla oleoresin or vanilla absolute. There are a few different options when you use the essential oil together with other oils. At first, I didn’t know that there was a difference. So I went and got some organic vanilla extract. Let’s just say, you can’t use that and substitute for vanilla essential oil.


[00:31:08] Ashley James: Is vanilla essential oil made from the vanilla bean or from the vanilla flour? What part of the plant is the vanilla essential oil from?


[00:31:17] Sabrina Zielinski: You know, that’s a Dr. Z question. I just know how to use it, and I actually do make my own vanilla extract. That’s a great gift, by the way, is you get 10 organic vanilla beans. You buy organic vodka, and you fill one of those old bottle top containers. You put all the beans in, you fill it to the top, you literally wait three to four months, then you switch it out, and you fill the container up again. It’ll go on for years. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.


[00:31:57] Ashley James: Really, the 10 vanilla beans will just keep?


[00:31:59] Sabrina Zielinski: Yeah. It is. It’s such a great thing. Let’s say one day, it’s a little lighter. So all you do is cut one bean in half, don’t do anything else, no joke. You just keep using it. So what I do is I take canning jars and I’ll fill them up and then have another one. I just always put the date on it, that way I know it’s three months or whatever because we go through a lot of it the way that we bake and stuff using all anti-inflammatory ingredients.

So because of the natural sweeteners that we use, instead of using a teaspoon like a regular recipe says for vanilla, we use a tablespoon. So you can see we go through a lot more of that organic vanilla, but it works, and it works great and that’s a great gift. With my mom’s company, because she’s known as the herb lady, she does cooking with herbs. I would tell you, we probably sold hundreds of those kits because they’re so effective, and they’re such a great gift that you can use them for so long. And once they had the vanilla bean shortage then a couple of years ago, we were grateful that we had bought so many vanilla beans in the rears. We didn’t have to really worry about that.


[00:33:22] Ashley James: Besides baking, what do you use vanilla bean extract for?


[00:33:27] Sabrina Zielinski: Well, we do a lot of baking, and we do a lot of recipes. We make even a butternut squash souffle, totally anti-inflammatory, but just that little bit of vanilla helps that we make a lot of our own. We use matcha green tea and we make a fat-burning matcha latte, and so we add vanilla to that. And of course, you can always do a liver cleansing one, and instead of adding peppermint and cinnamon essential oils to it, you can always go with spearmint and put an immune-boosting essential oil in there, but we always incorporate essential oils.

Anytime we do it with food, we always make sure that there’s fat to mix the essential oils with, that way it properly dilutes it. But we use that in a lot of the beverages that we make. We play beach volleyball, and so we have a lot of friends that really enjoy coffee. I’ll have coffee every so often, and I always like to make sure it’s a very clean and pure deal. But for them, they love it. So I’ll make homemade nut milk and I’ll match the stevia with the nut milk that I use. And then I’ll add a little bit of vanilla as well. And then I make our own ice-cold coffee lattes that are stevia-sweetened.

So we use that in a lot of the different things that we make just on a weekly basis. I always said I was really cut out for the assembly line with having five kids. We pump things out kind of like that. And so, because of that, we make a lot of things in advance. Also, for instance, at our school, they know that our kids can only have Mama Z-approved snacks.

So if somebody has a birthday coming up when one of our kids has a birthday, I’ll make cupcakes that way we freeze all the other things because we don’t eat a lot of sweets, but we bake a lot and we give a lot of that away. And so we end up freezing all these cupcakes, and then when it’s Susie’s birthday I put the frozen cupcake in a little cupcake container, and then it goes in the front of the bag the day before. So when they go to school, they have their own Mamas Z-approved snack for that special birthday. And the same thing if they go to a birthday party or any of that, we always bring our own version of whatever it is that they’re having at the party.


[00:36:14] Ashley James: I do that too. I love it. Our son has allergies. We’ve been gluten-free for, gosh, 11 years now. We’ve been gluten-free for so long I forget when we started, but it’s been a long time. And then dairy-free. My husband and I are both allergic to it, to begin with, and then I found out I have an egg allergy and then our son has all these different allergies. He’s got all my husband’s and my allergies combined, plus a few ones he invented himself. Luckily I’m seeing he’s growing out of it, and a lot has to do with histamine.

We’ve been as natural as possible, let’s just say. We’ve been as absolutely as natural as possible, and so it always perplexes me why he had these issues, but I think it has to do with gut health because the more we look to strengthen gut health, the better his histamine is getting. So we’re on the way to reducing histamine naturally. I do the same thing where we bring our own version of a healthy fun snack to birthday parties, and he looks forward to that. I’m so, so grateful that he gets it because he doesn’t like feeling sick.

My mom was very strict and so I rebelled in my teenage years and gave myself all kinds of health problems through food. I gave myself type 2 diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. And then in my 30s, I worked on reversing all of it, and I did. I reversed all of it. I was told I’d never have kids, I’d never conceive naturally. I was told by an endocrinologist that I was completely infertile, and changing my diet, supplements, and coming back to rediscovering natural medicine is how I healed myself. I no longer have those problems. But I rebelled, and so I don’t want to create that same thing for my son.

I’m looking at, how do I create this balance where I teach him the benefits of eating healthy so that when he’s on his own, he will make that choice instead of my mom just was like the sergeant general, do what I say, and then I rebelled. I’ve allowed him sometimes to try something, and then it’s like, okay, that’s the consequence of what it is to taste that because then he feels sick. And then the next time he goes, I don’t want to feel sick. He’s like 100% will never ever eat anything from McDonald’s. He wants to go there for a toy because he knows they have toys there, but he’s almost six, and actually six and a half years old this month, and he’s told me, no, I absolutely will never eat anything else because he knows it’ll make him sick. I’m glad that he’s deciding this for himself.

But learning how to make these little changes, it’s overwhelming when someone’s coming from the more mainstream, wait to get sick, and then go to a doctor. Eat whatever at any restaurant, eat whatever, right? Eat whatever that has been handed to you without question and you suffer. Maybe you have bloating, you have some weight issues, you have metabolism issues, you have hormone or thyroid issues, and skin problems or eye problems. 

You’re just sick of being sick, you’re sick of being in pain, you’re sick of being fatigued, and then you discover natural medicine, and all of a sudden, this whole new world opens up. Now it’s like, okay, now I have to really be picky about what goes in my body, what goes on my body, and what comes into my house. Yes, we have to be picky, and it can be overwhelming if we think of everything that needs to change, but make little changes one step at a time.

The first change I ever made was going 100% organic. My husband and I decided to shop—well, two changes, shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and only choose organic. That was something we did back in 2008, and I was incredibly sick at the time. I was suffering so hugely, and I was on constant antibiotics. After one month of just shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, we were still eating dairy. We weren’t gluten-free, we were still eating dairy, but we went organic and shopped the perimeter of the grocery store. I hadn’t even cut out sugar, and a month into that, my chronic infections went away. 

I thought, if I could change something so significant in my health by making this one change, what else can I do? That’s what led me to mentor under naturopaths and change my diet and supplements to the point where I reversed all those conditions, and then that’s why I started the podcast to get this information out there.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the people who need this the most, the listeners who let’s say are in overwhelm because I’m in overwhelm on a daily basis managing being a mom, now being a teacher because we homeschool. We’ve started first grade, doing the podcast, and everything else. Just life and managing everything that happens. We’re managing so much right now especially as parents and as moms. Our routine has completely changed.

Food is getting more and more toxic. You know this because you shared with me, maybe you can share with the listeners in a moment why you know this. But here’s the thing, I’m in my early 40s and the food that we grew up with in the ‘80s is not the food that we have today. We have to remember that. 

Cheerios is not the same, right? The Cheerios that you had in the ‘80s is not the same Cheerios now. Cheerios now has glyphosate in it. Glyphosate is a chelator that has bound to heavy metals and will release them when pH changes. So the pH changes when blood goes to urine and when blood turns to the cerebral spinal fluid. It’ll cross the blood-brain barrier. Glyphosate deposits heavy metals such as aluminum into the kidneys into the brain. I have interviews on this. The evidence and the proof are there. An entire country banned glyphosate because it was killing their farmers. We have to get that what is banned in other countries is on your shelf ready for your kids to eat in our country.

We have to be like the gatekeeper. You have to be a gatekeeper. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the most overwhelmed and those who need it the most. Please, can you walk us through, give us some steps. So talk to those listeners who really, really need some steps, need some direction, need some guidance so that they can take those baby steps to start feeling better.


[00:43:26] Sabrina Zielinski: Absolutely. And I completely understand how that is because I was on 11 different prescription medicines. A lot of them for my stomach and other things growing up because even though my mom was the herb lady, she focused on culinary cooking, so it wasn’t necessarily healthy, but it had incorporated a lot less of the fats because again, that was more of the ‘80s and a lot more of the herbs for the flavor.

But my dad created GMO corn, that’s what he did. When they were told about the project that they were working on, they said, no, this is going to cause more allergies, and some of the food is not going to be as nutrient-dense, but we are going to be able to feed the world was what they told them. Well, I just happened to be one of those people with lots of those allergies.


[00:44:16] Ashley James: Maybe that’s why my son has allergies.


[00:44:22] Sabrina Zielinski: Our grandparents, they didn’t go through this kind of stuff. They don’t have all of this Roundup in their stomachs that is just staying around. They don’t have all of these heavy metals. They didn’t because things were done differently. But anytime you try to play God and do something a little bit better than what God has done, you always have to pay the price. When I first got off of the prescription drugs, I really prayed about where would I even start?

I did end up doing a 10-day water fast, and I felt that that was the key for me. I don’t recommend that unless you are being observed by a natural healthcare professional. But I did and I did get off of all of those medicines. I had weaned myself off of one, and then it was the other 10 during that 10-day period.

I also wasn’t as smart about figuring out what I was allergic to before I met Eric. I thought, I think I might be possibly allergic to dairy. So I went out and I got two pints of ice cream and I ate them both back. I thought, I am going to check this out. I’m going to see what happens. Oh my goodness. Well, let’s just say my stomach was probably not the same for a couple of days after that.

Then I thought, I really think I have some kind of an allergy to sugar. So I decided to eat two bags of Tootsie Pops just to see what would happen, and also not a very smart idea. I realized that both of those were a trigger. I thought, you know, that probably wasn’t smart. I don’t think I’m going to do that kind of stuff again, but at least I know that those are probably not good ones. Then learning about gluten and all of the other inflammatory ingredients that are in our staple food that is available. Then that’s when we started cutting out all these other things, but that’s when I met Eric. He was really the key to learning about some of those other inflammatory ingredients.

Like you’re saying, starting small, for Eric, that was throw everything away in the pantry and start over. For me, I was like, well, when that’s gone, we’ll replace it with good things. Not everybody can throw everything away in their pantry and start from scratch. Eric was like, at all cost, throw everything away. I’m just like, well, we’ll just substitute with better ingredients as these things are gone. You can do it either way, but the end goal should be the same to get all those inflammatory ingredients out of your pantry and your staple goods.

The other thing is, is when we focus on detoxing the areas of our home, we’re talking the pantry, the kitchen, the laundry room, the bathroom, and your garden spaces, once we hit all of those areas, and it’s really one by one by one by one by one is the way to do it. We did a toxic-free healthy homemaker over with our house. We ended up filming it because people were like, well, how do you do that and what do you do? 

But the bottom line is you start small like you said. The biggest thing is to throw any of the smelly stuff and perfume away, you have to. They all mess up your hormones. They’re all toxic. All your plugins and things—toxic. Focusing on essential oils, and I’ve dedicated my time and my life to making sure that I have the healthy scents and the other things that we used to look forward to as the seasons change. You can make healthy alternatives for everything.

The other thing is that hand sanitizer has been pushed down our throats like we’re supposed to literally bathe in it, which is terrible because not only do we have our gut health that we have to worry about, but we also have our skin microbiome that we have to worry about as well. And those products are filled and filled with chemicals and pesticides that are wreaking havoc on the layers of skin.

We tell people to do the 10:10:10 method. So that’s 10 drops of essential oils. We love an immune boosting essential oil blend as we talked about in the Essential Oils Apothecary, and that’s equal parts of cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lemon, orange, and rosemary. Let’s say you have an essential oil bottle, it’s empty or you buy some empty bottles. Then you mix your own essential oil blend for boosting your immune system. 

So you use 10 drops of that blend. Then 10 drops of aloe vera gel, organic of course, and then 10 drops of a high proof grain alcohol. You can use the highest that you have, and then you fill up a one-ounce bottle with those things, and the rest of that bottle up with purified or distilled water. You shake it and go. You can use that for a variety of different things. How easy is that?


[00:50:11] Ashley James: So like a hand sanitizer, perfume, when you say a variety of things, what do you mean?


[00:50:16] Sabrina Zielinski: Yup. All of those ingredients are also edible. I spray it on the kids when we roll up in the car line. It’s really funny because the people that take the kids out, they’re like, you know, your car doesn’t smell like the other cars. I’m like, well, thank you. I do not want it to be a microbiology experiment over here. The kids are part of it, and they know they’re not allowed to use any of the hand sanitizers.

I also make that same blend of essential oils. You can DIY your own hand wash, or you can get an organic unscented hand wash and you can add eight drops to every one ounce of your hand wash with those same essential oils, shake it up, and go. So I actually make hand soap for every sink that each one of my kids has, and the other teachers liked it so much that I ended up just making so much hand soap, and then I made so much hand sanitizer that the administrative people wanted their own hand sanitizer too. Even though the kids didn’t have them for teachers, they wanted the same thing.

And then they were like, well, can you also make some for my nephew as well if you’re already doing it? So our school is covered with our hand soap and hand sanitizer because it’s so much better for you. That’s the thing, you have to start small, but you’d never know where your influence ends. Now they want us to come and teach people how to naturally boost their immune system. We count it all joy because these are things that are super simple that you can do today.

Doing a detox bath before you go to bed is one of the best things that you can do whether you’re a child, you’re pregnant, or you’re just an older gentleman, it doesn’t matter. Using Epsom salts and Bragg apple cider vinegar, lemon, and lime essential oils, I’m going to give you the recipe for it, but those will help to detox some of those heavy metals. Using a cup of Epsom salts, a fourth of a cup of Bragg apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of a carrier oil that is liquid the whole time with one or two drops of lemon essential oil, six to eight drops of lavender helps dilate those blood vessels. Lemon helps cleanse it through with the Epsom salts.

And especially if you have skin irritations or other things going on because we know that there’s that brain skin gut connection, then that’s going to help gently exfoliate those skin cells. You’ll actually see pieces of skin that float around the outside of your bathtub. You’re like, what is that? Well, that’s your skin just naturally detoxing. You want that, we need that. We need to make sure that our bodies are less burdened because we live under webs and webs and webs of Wi-Fi, 5G, and all of those other things that we don’t have any control over. Some we have little control over.

Doing what we can to naturally detox our body and increase our immune systems are some of the only things that we have control over. It’s something that you can do regularly. Our kids, if they are starting to feel like some symptoms or whatever, we’ll do that same recipe. We’ll half that recipe for the younger ones, then still fill up the bathtub and they know they just soak there.

Our son broke his collarbone twice actually in the exact same spot—once at camp and once when he was playing tag at school. Well, they weren’t supposed to be playing tag, but it was the same eight boys. So I soaked him and that helped him feel a lot better. So he wasn’t sure that he was even injured because he felt so much better. And then, of course, we did end up taking him in there because his shoulder did not look right. He did have it broken, but he healed within a couple of weeks and it was great.

So using essential oils for those kinds of things, that’s the great thing about plant-based medicine is you get a lot of options, and you get a lot of different kinds of essential oils that you can work together whether you make your own blends or if you use a company’s blends. A lot of the things that we do are non-branded because we want you to feel comfortable with whatever you’re using to be able to incorporate it into your health.

In the Essential Oils Apothecary, we kind of take a deeper dive into some of these other chronic diseases really to help you navigate at those starting places. Because I think it takes looking at those areas of the home that I mentioned, but I think it also takes us looking at what are our pain points right now? Is there anything that we can try to do to manage some of those things to start with because it does us no good to detox everything if we’re still not sleeping? So we want to make sure, yes, we’re detoxing everything because that will help.

But then using some good oils for sleep. We love our deep sleep blend where you have your equal parts of lavender, chamomile, and vetiver. We incorporate stuff for our kids. We alternate the essential oils that we put in their diffuser as well because just like we don’t go to the gym every day and do the exact same workout, essential oils are like that too. We don’t want to have a mono diet. We don’t want to have a mono essential oils diet, so to speak, so we want to make sure that we vary. The nice thing about essential oils is there are so many different ones that work for different ailments.

You and I have our own bio-individuality, so certain ones may work really good for you and maybe work okay for me, but you still got a whole other list of things to try and find out what works best for you and your family. So all of our recipes are a great starting point. I always tell people, I love it when they take our books, write all in them, and make it theirs because that’s really what it takes to have us work together as a team to find out what’s best for each and every person.


[00:57:29] Ashley James: I love that you said your pain point. You could totally revamp your life, but like you said, if someone’s not sleeping or what if you have pain? Like for me, I’ve had to really do some triage work in the last few months. And so looking at, are you in physical pain, are you in emotional and mental pain? Is your pain point that you’re struggling with eating, making healthier choices around eating or maybe you don’t know what you’re allergic to? Is your immune system your pain point, your hormones your pain point? What is your pain point and then let’s start with that.

If we can really get a leg up on feeling better about where you’re suffering, I don’t use that word lightly.


[00:58:25] Sabrina Zielinski: You get hope.


[00:58:26] Ashley James: I think everyone listening has a section like a little piece of the pie, right? If you break down your life into pieces of a pie, there are pieces of the pie that are really fulfilled. Maybe you are really fulfilled spiritually and have a great connection with God and a great connection with your Creator, but your career feels really empty and meaningless. Or maybe you’re struggling with your relationship with your kids, your spouse, your parents, or your siblings, but you have really great relationships with your friends, right?

If you’d write down sort of like a pie all these different pieces in terms of your health, so you have your mental health, your emotional health, and your physical health. Then physical health can be broken down into how’s your sleep, how’s your energy? How’s your eating? Do you eat at home or are you eating all takeout? How’s your home cooking kind of thing? And then how’s the quality of your relationships? You’re moving your body every day in a way that brings you joy.

Are you feeling stiff, are you in pain, or are you feeling like you have mobility? Do you feel younger in your body than your actual biological age? Because that would be great if younger, and I want everyone to know that they can. They can make little changes to get to the point where their cells are expressing themselves in a younger, more youthful, and energetic state than their biological age, which is what we want everyone to have.

I felt like I was 100 years old in my 20s. I felt so bad. I’m still working on my health. It’s like a work in progress. And it’s something I highly, highly value. Every choice I make, everything I put in my mouth is either hurting me or healing me, and that’s the level of seriousness we need to take. That’s why I love your book because the Essential Oils Apothecary is something where we can identify where is my pain point? 

If I could take a magic wand and give you this one wish. If you can rub Aladdin’s lamp and ask for this one wish that changes one part of your health, what would it be? Or maybe three things in your life, what would it be? And then open up the Essential Oils Apothecary and find the guidance around improving those areas. And then, once you get a leg up, now you’ve got more energy, and like you said, hope and drive. And then you can start doing things like looking in the cupboards and clearing away what’s no longer serving you.

We have to remember that sometimes we turn to substances like sugar and alcohol because it makes us feel good at the moment. It’s really harming us in the long run. A lot of us self-medicate because those are our coping mechanisms. If we can self-medicate with a healthier coping mechanism like taking a few minutes to rub essential oils with a carrier all over our body, inhale them, put them in our bath, put them in our foot bath, put them on our clothes, or spray them on, and just take a few moments to take really deep cleansing breaths, it changes the biochemistry inside you.

It makes such a huge difference on a mood level, on an emotional level, but it also changes your biochemistry and helps you with your hormones, your metabolism, and your immune system. So I really recommend looking at what are my coping mechanisms? Do I turn to sugar every night? Do I turn to a glass of alcohol every night? Those things are pro-inflammatory. They disrupt sleep. They disrupt your detox. They disrupt your immune system. It actually makes your white blood cells go to sleep, it’s actually really scary what sugar does, and alcohol is sugar. Also, your body burns through its vitamins and certain minerals, it burns through, so we ended up becoming depleted of vitamins and minerals when we consume sugar and alcohol.

So if you do consume sugar and alcohol, try to maybe commit to let’s say seven days without sugar and alcohol, and instead, use essential oils to create a healthier coping mechanism for destressing and bringing yourself back into a place of joy. 

Coming from someone who, this year, I have been working heavily on managing my grief, healing sadness, and increasing my joy through all this. I can tell you that alcohol and sugar ultimately will lead to your devastation, whereas a connection with source, with your Creator, a connection with your family, with your loved ones, building a connection with your body, and finding things like the right essential oils you can utilize makes a world of difference and will actually decrease inflammation and pain, increase sleep, and increase productivity.

You’re either spiraling in the wrong direction or spiraling in the right direction. You’re getting compounding interest.

Way back in the ‘90s when I was really, really first getting into essential oils, I’d read a study. So this is a long time ago but it is so fitting. In Japan, and I’m sure most people know that the work ethic in Japan is outstanding. They never want to take a sick day. There’s a banking company that decided to diffuse lemon essential oils in the air at all their branches to see if it would make a difference. What they saw was that it significantly reduced sick days taken. In Japan, they only take a sick day if they’re actually sick, and I thought that was really interesting.

Lemon is also uplifting in terms of your emotional state, but it actually significantly reduced people getting sick and spreading infections like colds and flu. How interesting is that? That’s something so easy, lemon essential oil. It’s not like frankincense or ones that are not as typical, right? Everyone knows what lemon is. Everyone knows the smell of lemon. If you’re just getting into essential oils, then lemon would be very familiar to you. I love that you said that your detox bath contains lemon because lemon and lime are something that is so supportive of the immune system.


[01:05:41] Sabrina Zielinski: It is. When you were talking about other ways to cope, being outside barefoot in the garden is so powerful. When you think of aromatherapy and when I’m outside with all my herbs and spices, I mean, it’s a beautiful thing. Really taking time to connect, to put your cell phone away, and really connect with the people that are around you—your family, your loved ones. If you don’t have a lot of people really close, going outside in nature, but we try to take our family walks. I have the kids, they all do their jobs because I want them very invested and know how to do all of it.

I had two sisters growing up. I cleaned up after them in the bathroom, and wouldn’t you know, both of them, they don’t keep house the same way. I realized that back then, I had to make sure that I kept the kids involved with everything so that they kept that standard in their own life. If we don’t teach our kids to spend time with one another, and let’s face it, every single thing that we have around us—the television, the phones, all that stuff—is really eliminating a lot of the personal connection time. It’s really important that we make sure that we keep that connection time.

It’s also important that for our spouse and whatnot, that we also keep that date time. We make sure that we do have babysitters that come a couple of times a month so that Eric and I can continue to date one another. All of those things are important. I’ll know he’s excited for a date. He’s got his essential oils on, he’s got his favorites. I’m like, oh, he is ready for a date. I can already smell him over here.

There are certain things that make you happy. You’ll find certain blends that really speak to you, and that will change over time because we change over time. I love combinations that have spearmint, citrus, peppermint, and stuff. All those are uplifting, and you’ll find that certain ones just speak to your soul at that time. Because we are ever-changing, those things can change.

I’ll tell you, I never liked the smell of clary sage, geranium, and ylang-ylang until I had the molar pregnancy. I did not like them, and I needed them. I lived off of those. I needed them for my body at the time. I use that when I’ve come off of my pregnancies and I’m trying to shed some of the extra hormones. But at that time, it was literally food for my soul, besides what I was eating. That brings me to tell you, some people think I’m going to just do without. I’m going to do without all these things that are my favorites.

I’ll never forget my mom. Our book before this is called The Essential Oils Diet, and it really is the essential oils lifestyle, ultimately. She really changed all her diet and different things, and my dad was like, well, when are you going to go back to eating normal? I was trying to tell my dad, because he’s the only person that probably should have his Fitbit taken away because he like reports to that Fitbit like somebody reports to a boss, and I think it’s because he’s retired, so he wants to give updates and stuff. So he sends us all his stats.

We’ll be like, dad, what is this, your sixth bike ride today? Because they close their gym in Michigan for 18 months or something like that. He and my mom would go to the gym first thing every morning. And so instead, he was riding his bike. He’s like, oh no, this is my third bike ride. I’m like, dad, listen. You do not have to check in with your Fitbit so much if you actually eat good food and not crap. He said, well, I like to eat the crap, that’s why I exercise like I am. We can’t look at it like that. 

There are so many good alternatives that when I was making baked goods, I tested them all out on him. Why? Because he’s the sugar guy. He wouldn’t even say, I like that. He would just say, yeah, I’ll take another piece of that, or he’d say, yeah, you don’t have to make that one again.

On our website,, we have so many recipes. So if you’re starting out and you really just want to make some of those changes, or look at what you have and find out what some of the alternatives are to the things that are staples that are in your pantry, then you won’t have to feel like you’re starting from scratch. Because right now, there are so many more alternatives than there were 20 years ago when we were doing this, and it is amazing. A lot of things have come so far. I’ll tell you, my favorite thing is the almond cow.

I would grind up the nuts with distilled water, add a few other ingredients, a little vanilla and like a pinch of stevia. You’d buzz it up, and then you get a nut milk bag—organic, of course—then you’d squeeze the nut milk bag, and then you’d have nut milk. Oh my goodness, walnuts or pecans, sign you up for some carpal tunnel. It is like quite a workout. 

The almond cow, you literally put nuts in, you put the water in, and you push a button, and it comes out with nut milk and not meat. So you have both things that you can use and tons of different recipes. And so really, doing something like that is easy really and then you get such a much better product. Because a lot of these shelf-stable things use bad oils. They use other products that you wouldn’t want to put in your body. And over time, a lot of these small companies have been bought out by big companies that own other products that we wouldn’t want to ingest, and so they’ve changed the products.

Like you said, the food isn’t as good as it was even 10 years ago, let alone 20 and 30 years ago. Really being mindful of those things and knowing that there are so many good alternatives out there. One of the best places to start is on the foods that you would like to consume, some of your favorites. Looking at our family recipes that have been staples for decades and decades, I went back and really converted them to an anti-inflammatory diet. It’s one of those things that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you sure can.

You can go back to all your favorite recipes and eventually make positive substitutions for each of those ingredients that may not be on the top 10 positive list.


[01:13:51] Ashley James: I love it, and your website,, it’s an online source for biblical health and non-branded essential oil education. What do you mean by biblical health?


[01:14:05] Sabrina Zielinski: Sure, we follow that John 10:10 that God really wants us to live an abundant life. We focus on some of the promises that are in the scriptures. We know that the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations. We really believe that essential oils are the epitome of that. We take it back a step to when things are a little bit more simple than we are now and focus on the principles that the Bible teaches regarding that. We try to let people know what the Bible does say, how that really relates to our health, and maybe some other areas that might help people connect on a spiritual level.


[01:14:58] Ashley James: I love it. Is there any scripture relating to health that you feel called to share today?


[01:15:06] Sabrina Zielinski: Yeah, it’s Psalms 138:8, God will perfect that which concerns you. When I was going through trying to figure out, I know my body can heal itself. I’m on 11 different prescription medicines. This is ridiculous. I learned about true fasting in the Old Testament, and it kind of walked you through how to fast. I did just what it said. I really clung to that scripture because I knew that God would perfect those things that concern me.

Another scripture says, where things are impossible with man, all things are possible with God. I’ll tell you, at that time, it was music to my soul. I’m like, I know there’s got to be a way that I don’t have to live every single day on medicine. There’s got to be another way. This is ridiculous. 

I was on ADHD medicine when I was in second grade. The Ritalin and all of that stuff, I would literally have to time out because I competed in pageants. I’d have to time out my interview time with my medicine time in order to make sure that everything would be optimal at the time that I would interview. That’s bondage. If you have to figure out all that stuff in order to do what you need to do, then you’re not doing what you need to do. Your body has the ability to heal itself. 

Especially with fueling it with the right fuel, Eric will always say, you can try to live the essential oils lifestyle, but if you also try to live the McDonald’s lifestyle, then it’s like two steps forward with the essential oils, and three steps back. He’s like the dad that will spank you on that one, but it’s true because we have to look at what we’re fueling. And really, the things that I was fueling my body with were not helpful. They were not helpful for my brain health and development at the time. I didn’t know any of that. I ate what every American person ate—crap. But I thought that that was good. 

Even though I had home-cooked meals, they had inflammatory ingredients in them, and my body started just rejecting everything. At one point, I got down to eating about four to five foods that I knew that would make me sick, and I could not figure it out because most people are like, oh yeah, I’ll just go to the restaurant and I’m going to just order some salad. Okay, well, that’s great, except for the fact that they spray preservatives, and many restaurants have licenses to spray the preservatives on the greens so that they will last longer. 

I would have to ask everywhere I went because I realized that 20 minutes after I ate a salad, I’d be running for the restroom, and that’s not even putting dressing on because if we’re talking about dressing, then that is the number one area that has all the inflammatory ingredients together. You got your soy, you got your gluten, you got your sugar, you got your dairy, all this like concoction. Now you’ve turned a healthy salad into a Big Mac right in front of your plate.

They’re like, all right, well, where do we go from here? Well, let’s say you did have to go to a restaurant. Let’s say they didn’t spray the greens with preservatives. So you got yourself some greens and you got some steamed salmon, have them put that on top of the greens and have your main dish be your salad dressing and do that at home. You’re taking a bite of that with a bite of that and you’re having those good leafy greens, that way you’re getting in those micro scrubbers for the gut, you’re doing the things that you need to do, you’re allowing your body to be more freed up.

Even for me, I even take sabbaticals on my supplements. I do that because I want my metabolism to be freed up for a little bit, and I don’t want it to get too used to some of the things that I do. I go right back to some of the things that I need. Obviously, that changes over time, whether I’m breastfeeding, not breastfeeding, pregnant, not pregnant. All those things factor in because our body changes and our needs change. But making sure that you’re just always free that you live free.

And it says in the Bible that whoever the Son sets free is free indeed. We want to make sure that we’re free. We’re free from feeling like we’re bound by our medicines, and then equally, we want to make sure that we don’t feel like without our supplements we can’t go on for the next day. Yes, we want them to be a benefit to us. But we don’t want to change one thing for another. We want to stay as free as we can from technology as well because we’re only going to be bound by the vices that we have and making sure that we try to stay as free as we possibly can.


[01:20:34] Ashley James: I love it. Now, you have many books, and the latest, which is my favorite of all your books so far, although all your books are fantastic. The Essential Oils Apothecary can be found at as in essential oils,

You had mentioned to me that you are also a big fan of the sauna. I love my Sunlighten Sauna. For those who have a sauna or go to the gym and use a sauna, although you have to be respectful when in public spaces. In my gym, this is of course pre-COVID. Gosh, isn’t that weird? We’re going to be doing that for a while. The BC and AC—Before COVID, After COVID. 

But before COVID in the steam room of the gym I went to, I’d bring some kind of respiratory like eucalyptus or some kind of respiratory blend that had eucalyptus in it or Olbas. I love Olbas. It’s a blend for sinus and respiratory. Just as a side note, I used to get sinus infections, and then I discovered Olbas way, way back when I was a late teenager. You can find it in most health food stores. I just put a few drops of that in a big bowl of really, really hot water like that just comes from being boiled with a towel over my head, inhale, and then of course have the tissues nearby. I do that a few times a day, and then after I blow my nose and blow everything out, follow it up with colloidal silver nasal spray. 

Now, I don’t get sick, knock on wood. I don’t really get sinus infections often anymore, thank God, but I used to get them more frequently in the past. And then when I use this system, I no longer needed antibiotics. That my sinus infections would come and go very quickly. The combination of using essential oils and then colloidal silver nasal spray. I’ve done neti pot a few times.


[01:22:41] Sabrina Zielinski: Yeah, me and the neti pot don’t get along well either.


[01:22:44] Ashley James: Me neither. If I have to, if it’s kind of real deep in there, I think once or twice my entire life I’ve gotten the neti pot out because I was kind of desperate. But for me, it’s like waterboarding. Some people love it, dude, but it’s not a pleasant experience. It’s kind of like nasal waterboarding. But what I do love is taking my sinuses to the spa. 

So if you have irritated sinuses from wildfires, smoke, and all that, pick your favorite essential oils and maybe even just eucalyptus or frankincense, that’s great for the lungs. But one or two drops in a big bowl of really hot steaming water, put a towel overhead, make a tent, and just inhale through your nose out your mouth, and then blow out your sinuses. It’s so wonderful. It’s antimicrobial. All essential oils are antimicrobial, so they kill fungus, viruses, and bacteria, but some are more antimicrobial, more anti-viral, for example than others. Which of course, the Essential Oils Apothecary Book is going to tell you all about that. You can go to  

So back to talking about saunas. So in my private sauna, I have my own sauna. It’s Sunlighten, and I’ll do whatever I want there. But in public saunas, I’ll take my bottle and I’ll ask if I’m in there with someone, is it okay if I use some of this? I’ve always gotten a yes because they love it and they enjoy it too. But you got to be cautious of people around you and their preferences if you’re in public using essential oils.

So in a sauna, what do you use in terms of safety, right? Because we don’t want to go overboard because we’re already opening up all of our pores. They’ve tested sweat, this is something you can even look at Wiki. They’ve tested the composition of sweat and there are traces of heavy metals in sweat. This is one of the ways that I healed my liver.

My liver was incredibly damaged. I did the ketogenic diet and I damaged my liver hugely. My liver was actually sticking out. You could see it sticking out. It was so inflamed. My naturopath wanted to do a biopsy of my liver. She was very concerned. My liver enzymes were through the roof, and so I ended up getting a sauna as one of the things to detox and help support my liver. I did successfully heal my liver from that because anytime you sweat, you’re helping your liver by removing toxins through the skin instead of having the liver have to do it. Not all the toxins the liver does, but some of them.


So here you are, you’re hot, you’re sweaty, you’re doing some great things, especially if it’s infrared with the light because infrared light is so good for you. What essential oils and how would you use them? Is it during sauna, after sauna, or before sauna? Maybe you can walk us through what’s the best practice for utilizing essential oils with sauna therapy?


[01:25:42] Sabrina Zielinski: Absolutely. And the other thing too is that our sauna has like a little cup that you can actually, with the heat in there, have a blend of essential oils. It’s in glass so you just rinse it out with some soapy water and put a new blend in. I love any respiratory blends. Your favorite company has its own. I love the combination of eucalyptus and peppermint. You can always add sandalwood, frankincense, a joyful blend, that immune boosting blend.

You look at different times in our lives and I think back to when I had headaches and stuff. I would do cold compresses. I purposely make up cold compresses that have peppermint essential oil on purpose, and of course, lavender ones as well, so that I can put those on my head even when I’m in the sauna.

Now, in our book, we talk about that a little bit. You can take—just like you had the bowl of water and add essential oils and some carrier oil, mix those things up, and allow your washcloths to absorb that and then you squeeze them out. Not like you’re squeezing out the one from washing the dishes, but enough that it’s still together, and then I put them in Ziploc bags and put them in the freezer. 

Those are really good because in the sauna, and ours goes very high temperature, but you get in there and Eric works out in the sauna. My husband works out in the sauna. When I’m there, it is really hot. I mean I like it, but it is really, really hot. I want to make sure that I can do what I need to in order to stay there. 

I’ve done everything from an infrared sauna suit to being in the regular infrared sauna. I like to incorporate vibration therapy before I go into the sauna, so I’m really getting that stuff stirred up in the lymph system, and then when I go in there I’m sweating it out. I even have a red light therapy machine that I have in front of the sauna that I get on the vibration plates, and so I have little goggles on and I do that.

But the great thing is that a lot of gyms have what’s called a Beauty Angel. It’s this thing in the corner that nobody uses, and it literally incorporates vibration plates and red light therapy altogether, and there are so many gyms that have it. I remember talking to someone and they’re like, oh, I think I saw one of those in my gym in the corner, but I’ve never seen anybody use it. It’s the best machine in your gym besides the sauna and the steam shower. I like to incorporate that.

When you mentioned about the liver, I love incorporating colonics and utilizing a liver gallbladder cleanse. I like the Dr. Hulda Clark method. I’ve incorporated that regularly. I really feel like when you are cleansing that liver, it is like an oil change for your body, so there are ways to help that. That sauna is like your number one way—besides your sweat—to really get your body to move those toxins out.

I also really like the ionic foot baths as well. The ionic foot baths are almost like a test for your body. Well, after 30 minutes, it’s all going to look like junk anyways in there, but in the first 10 minutes, the stuff that comes out, if you’re really dealing with the heavy metals, you’ll see particles that look black that come out. I usually wait until about six weeks postpartum and then I’ll do my first colonic. 

The one pregnancy that I was on bed rest for a long time, I had a lot of blood mixing. I almost lost the baby because I had half of the womb hemorrhaged out. It was a full placenta previa and God completely healed my body. I was still able to have the baby at home. But there was a lot that happened between point A and point B.

Well, when I went for that colonic and then that foot ionization bath, and I always like to do the sauna in between if I can. When that happened, I had little blood droplets in the water within the first few minutes, and my body was just cleansing the blood. So different things, different markers will pop up, and it kind of will show you if there are other things that you need to deal with.

One of the times a few months ago, joints popped up. So you’re like, oh, I might need to do a joint cleanse or something like that. I find it’s like a test for the body. Yes, it helps to detect some of the other stuff going on after the sauna. But then you can see if there’s something else maybe you want to attack next. Your body will tell you the game plan of where we should go from here.


[01:31:41] Ashley James: Oh, I love it. I’ll share with you. The ionic foot spa that I love is called Platinum Energy System. I’ve had Kellyann on the show several times talking about the PES. She does give listeners discounts, but what I love about her—Kellyann is amazing. She’ll spend hours on the phone with you. When your foot spa arrives, she spends an hour or more on the phone with you walking you through how to set it up, and while you’re taking your first one—she also has these little pH test strips that she gives you and you take your saliva and you see where your pH is. 

Then right after your foot spa, after you’ve washed your feet, and you wash the system, she says you have to wash it and descale it, then you take your pH again and it always drops to three points right into alkaline. It’s absolutely amazing.

Every day I was tasting heavy metals in my mouth. My body, I could smell like this garbage smell coming off of me. Colonics are helping a little bit, but my liver was distended and painful. I started doing three sessions a week of the PES, the Platinum Energy System and it was such a game-changer. I saw those big floating black things in the water. She said, that’s heavy metal. I’m thinking to myself, what do you think, I’m stupid? Giant things don’t come out of my feet, right? Do you think I’m gullible?

I’m the biggest open-minded skeptic. I’m willing to try it, but I’m also not going to be like just because it’s natural it’s good. No, I’m going to question everything. What happens is you get really close to that water with the end of a pencil like with an eraser. I took it and I tried to pick up the giant floating flakes of black stuff. What happens is when you touch it, obviously you don’t want to touch it with your skin, with your hands, putting your finger back in the dirty water, it dissolves. Because the water is really hot so it opens the pores. 

What she said is the electromagnetic frequency—and these heavy metals are also magnetic—pulls the particles out of the lymph system from your feet, our lymph system. And then because it’s magnetic, they bind to each other. They find each other, they bind to each other, and they create these kinds of clumps or flakes in the water. But if you touch them, you’ll watch them dissolve right in front of your eyes because they’re actually tiny, tiny particles so small that they could go through your skin from your lymph system out of your body.

She has done tests. I interviewed her and she talked about it, but she’s done numerous tests. She proves, she published all these tests, and she has all them that she can give you showing that there’s so much cadmium, lead, aluminum, and the list goes on and on of these heavy metals in the water after a 30-minute session. There’s a lot of really cheap knockoffs from China. I would not recommend anyone get a cheap sauna or a cheap ionic foot spa. It’s like cheap essential oils, don’t even. Not only is it going to cost you money because you’re wasting money on something that doesn’t work, it’s going to hurt you.

The cheap stuff is knockoffs that will hurt you. I’m not asking you to spend millions of dollars. Yes, these machines are expensive, and it also does something so amazing that you end up with these amazing health benefits. 

This is how I learned about her but because I interviewed a doctor who’s actually local to me, but he’s known worldwide. He’s been practicing for over 40 years. He takes children who are nonverbal who’ve been diagnosed with autism. They’re beating their heads against the wall, and he detoxes them of heavy metals. One of the things he does is he uses Sunlighten Sauna. He also uses the PES, the Platinum Energy System. He does a bunch of other things like these green smoothies with spirulina and with different herbs. Get some away from Wi-Fi, change their diet, and sometimes get some homeopathic or supplements. These children detox from heavy metals and now they’re completely able to speak, they’re hugging their parents, they’re looking them in the eye.

The question is if they were on the spectrum and then after all the detox, a year later, they’re no longer considered on the spectrum, was it actually autism? How many children are suffering out there right now with heavy metal poisoning in their brains because of glyphosate in the food. And also, Dr. Stephanie Seneff who’s been on the show says that glyphosate is in the MMR vaccine. It’s been proven that it’s in there.

Glyphosate is dropping heavy metal straight into the brain of these children, and then this is how the nervous system responds, it’s how their system acts. Basically, it mimics autism symptoms. That’s why we went from 10,000 in 1 children when I was in school having autism, to now it’s 1 in 26 are something, which is so sad for these children and so sad for the parents who are frustrated.

I learned about Sunlighten and the PES, the ionic foot spa, from Dr. Klinghardt who I interviewed, and then I went on to find the creators of those and had them on the show. Those two companies made such a huge difference in my detox that I just had to keep interviewing them and sharing it because it made such a big difference.

I love that you also do the same thing. But incorporating essential oils in your care with sauna, that amps it up to a whole nother level. And then my third thing, which I don’t know if you know about, what you could do in the sauna, and this is one of my favorite things to do in the sauna is doing a magnesium foot soak.

Kristen Bowen, who I had on the show, was 97 pounds having 30 seizures a day almost nonverbal in a wheelchair at her worst, and she shares her story of how she got her health back. Soaking in this very bioavailable magnesium from the Zechstein Sea is one of the things. She doesn’t say it’s like this cure-all miracle, but magnesium is the most needed mineral of the body, and we are so depleted because it’s not in our food in the quantities we need it.

And so by soaking in it, you get about 20 grams. Between 20 and 24 grams is absorbed in one hour by soaking in it. I incorporated that and you could just put your feet in it and soak in it while you’re in the sauna. That is the coolest thing. Then you could add some essential oils to the little foot spa and take it to the next level. That’s what I did to detox heavy metals and heal my liver.


[01:38:55] Sabrina Zielinski: And there are some great oils for that for cleansing the liver.


[01:38:59] Ashley James: Please share them.


[01:39:01] Sabrina Zielinski: Yes. Clove, geranium, Helichrysum, and myrrh. I like those because they help to stimulate that function so that you can move the junk that’s in the body out. Many people are like, why the feet? There are over 10,000 pores on the bottom of your feet. The second part of that is if you look at the reflexology chart, not even if you care about reflexology, let’s just look at blood supply alone. That’s why when I look at the reflexology chart for both hands and feet, especially with all the stress, upper respiratory, and all these other things going on, if there are areas that are ailing you, I like to make sure to utilize those areas because it’s like a pathway right to the blood supply in those areas.

Now, there’s a caveat to that. I have seen some feet that I don’t know if anything would be carried up to the system because the feet are not properly taken care of. We really need to take good care of our feet. We need to make sure that we’re getting the calluses off, that we’re maintaining the skin in our body. I love utilizing the shower gloves for the body. I have a pumice stone for my feet, and I try to do that every day. 

That’s one of the things that when I was in the shower one day, I’m working all of this stuff, trying to work my lymph system and keep everything cleansed and clean, and all that stuff. One thing that I really felt God say to me was, you know how much time and energy that you’re putting into this, we also have to make sure that we do the emotional work too. We need to make sure that just like we’re taking this pumice stone to the feet, we got to do that to our heart too. We got to keep our own little pumice stone there in the heart because if we’re going to do all this physical work, we got to do the emotional work too.

It’s important to address the emotional concerns and things that are going on and not just stuff them down because there’s a reason why certain things are ailing our body. As we’re opening, available to the healing of our bodies and to the healing of our souls, we’re going to get not just closer to our Creator, but we’re going to be able to connect and be available to our family, but our bodies are going to take that next level. 

Just like you and I were sicker than dogs in our 20s, we wanted to have a much better 30s and an even better 40s. I’m 43 and I think God that I’m in such good health now, but we can’t just rest on our laurels as you know. We have to continue to strive to do something different.

So as you hear things in Ashley’s podcast and it resonates in your soul, incorporating these little nuggets of knowledge is huge because it’s going to be what helps take you from good to better to best over time. That’s how all this happens is over time. All of these tools that she and I have mentioned are all wonderful things. We’ve added slowly over time that ended up changing our life and our frequency and the things that we do to keep our bodies as less taxation as we can possibly have on it.

I would encourage you, yes, we can totally use the essential oils to cleanse those areas, and each ailment that we have when we talked about those pain points, we’re talking about some of those essential oils, utilizing things like the foot soaks, and incorporating some of those essential oils that go with those pain points are also going to help therapy that. Our goal is to have you not just feeling better, looking better, but functioning better and being more available to your family.


[01:43:34] Ashley James: I love it, I love it. Thank you so much for coming on the show, Sabrina, and sharing just so many nuggets of wisdom. It’s such a great reminder to look to the Bible for reassurance, look to God. I mean, there are some listeners who maybe don’t have a close relationship with God or that’s not their wheelhouse. I have found it so comforting at times when I haven’t gone to church in a long time and then all of a sudden I just hear a scripture and it just reminds me to ask God to be in my heart.

It’s nondenominational. I sort of walked on that fence. I don’t want to offend anyone, but at the same time, there’s this beautiful healing that comes from handing your life over to your Creator and asking for divine guidance, asking for support, and asking for that intuition. Please, please share with me, please guide me, handing your life over. So I love that in that you incorporate biblical health because looking to strengthen our spiritual health is another piece of that pie. It’s a Vesica Pisces, right? Our physical body, emotional body, mental body, and spiritual body, right? 

If we’ve ignored our spiritual body our whole life, that’s 1/4 of our being, right? Some people would say it’s all of our being because it’s a pretty empty world if you don’t have strong and healthy spiritual health. It just takes a mustard seed. It just takes a little bit. You don’t have to quit your job and go live in a cave and dedicate your life to God. But sometimes, it just takes a little bit. 

I do have several friends that will just open up the Bible at random and read. God, just guide me and they just flip over the Bible, put their finger there, and it’s the exact thing they needed to hear, and I’ve done that too. Just go to a website that gives you random scripture and just meditate on it and see if that brings you any peace, guidance, or joy. It’s a beautiful exercise.

I have been surprised because I was raised Anglican and raised to believe that communication with God is one-way communication. That you pray to God and that there’s zero talking back to you. You don’t hear back from him. You just have to have faith that he’s there, and there’s no communication coming down from heaven. But I’ve met so many Christians, Catholics, Mormons, and other denominations as well who have shared with me that in prayer, they receive messages from God. That in their heart, they receive intuition, they receive guidance, and I have been amazed. I’ve had interviews on the show where people talked about in prayer, they receive divine guidance, and that is so beautiful.

So there’s so much of this in this world that we don’t know, right? You don’t know what you don’t know. Sometimes our suffering is because of something we didn’t know was even there like maybe someone didn’t know mold was an issue, parasites were an issue, heavy metals were an issue. It might be that we don’t know that our connection to Source or to God is missing, right? I love that you incorporate biblical health along with all your essential oil guidance on your website. Is there anything that you’d like to say or teach or share to wrap up today’s interview?


[01:47:39] Sabrina Zielinski: Yes, you were mentioning that prayer, and sometimes it doesn’t have to be like your eloquent prayer that you see on the TV, at your church, or whatever. You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to come up with a prayer. Sometimes the best prayer is just help and help me God. I’ll never forget, it was 20 years ago, it was before I met Eric. I was like, God, I know I need to make some changes. I do not know what I’m doing, and I just prayed over my hands. I’m like, God, anoint my hands because I do not know what I’m doing but you do, and help me to make the decisions that I need to in order to help my body.

Literally, once I made that relationship, and I grew up in more of my mom went to church and my dad didn’t, but I never had a relationship. So when that happened, I really felt like that’s when the doors kind of opened. That’s when I was reading the Word in Isaiah 54 about true fasting. I read exactly what it said there. It said, give all the food that you would have eaten to the poor. It talked about that healing will come forth speedily and all of these things will happen. I did exactly what it said there. And in fact, I read it like it was, and it’s kind of funny.

Where we lived, there weren’t a lot of people. There was this one area where there were homeless people. So I put every canned good I had, again, I didn’t know that canned goods were probably not the best idea. But I got all the canned goods that I maybe would have eaten and a can opener and I did all that during that fasting time. But even though that was maybe not the best idea and I gave those things away, God still honored that because as I knew better, I did better. As we know better and we’re doing better, that’s where that accountability comes in. We have to be in tune with those things. 

I just really encourage you that you know, yes, the Bible has been around for many, many years, but when we say it’s the last will and testament of our Lord, there’s definitely some nuggets of knowledge in there whether you believe it or not. When you put those things to work, they work for you. Not for that reason because God really wants to be in fellowship with us. But I have seen where so many of the scriptures, like you said, just opening up the Bible and finding something for that day. 

There are so many nuggets of knowledge in there that it says basically in Proverbs that if you ask for wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and all things, God will give it liberally, which means without restraint. We need to pray for that knowledge and wisdom because God will show us. He will show us some of the things to come and really help to arm us with the knowledge that we need in order to tackle not this day but the days coming ahead. I think that’s important, not just for us and our health, but also for our family too.


[01:51:27] Ashley James: That’s beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing that. I feel compelled to ask, would you pray over our listeners?


[01:51:37] Sabrina Zielinski: Yes, absolutely. Heavenly Father God, I pray right now over each and every person hearing this message, Lord, and I just thank You, Lord, for the people that are listening. I thank you, God, as they’re putting their works to their faith, God, that you will bless and multiply the works of their hands, God. That whatever they put their hands to, Lord, will prosper in their health, mind, soul, and body. And God, I just thank you for that Psalms 138:8 that you will perfect those things that concern us. So I just thank you, God.

It says in your word, Lord, that when we decree a thing, you will establish it. So as we decree over our health and we make good affirmations, God, I thank You, Lord, that you’ll establish those in our hearts. And, God, I just pray right now for people who if you’re in the thick of everything that’s going on, and I just pray for peace—peace in your body, peace in your heart, and in your soul. I thank you, God, that you release any of the burdens, God, that they will roll-off. And I just thank you for freedom in every area, God, mind, soul, and body.

I thank You, Lord, that you want us to be healed and whole, and that’s from the top of our head to the soles of our feet. I thank you, Lord, that our whole body will line up to your will and your way. And it says in your Word that you promised your beloved sweet sleep, and we need that for our bodies to renew just like the wings of the eagles. And so I just thank you, Lord, that you will renew each and every person listening, Lord, with that strength. We know that your mercies and compassions are new every day.

And so as that example, God, we just thank you, Lord, that you will help us, not just see with what’s going around us, but God that you’ll give us your eyes, your view over it, which is a much higher view than ours. It’s just like us looking down from an airplane. You see the beginning and the end of all of it. So we just thank you, Lord, that you will help us to be able to navigate and be good stewards over the bodies and the souls that you’ve given us. And we just thank you, God, for being with us.

As we look at things that could be impossible, God, we know with you all things are possible. And even with that mustard seed size of faith that I heard my dear sister mention, God, you can move mountains with that. And that’s to your heart, to your liver, to your emotions, to your mental capabilities. Every single area, you know the very hairs that are on our head and how many there are. So, even more, you want us to be, to live to the full that John 10:10 abundant life, and I pray that over each and every person that is hearing my voice, God. That you would allow that freedom to come and just break off any chains that there could be that would be keeping these people from it.

God, I just thank you for your abundance and your blessing. You promise to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all we could ask or think, and that’s according to the power that lives within you. And so I just pray that over each and every person here today, and I just thank you, God, that with you we know all things are possible. In Jesus’’ name, Amen.


[01:55:10] Ashley James: Amen. Thank you so much Sabrina Zielinski for coming on the show. I highly recommend listeners check out her and her husband’s website. We can’t forget your husband, Dr. Z, And for their wonderful book, go to as in essential oils. It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show, Sabrina, and I’d love to have you back. This was just such a treat. Thank you so much.


[01:55:39] Sabrina Zielinski: Oh, thank you so much for having me. It’s such a blessing.


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Ashley James And Dr. Tom O’Bryan 


  • What is Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase (IAP)
  • Benefits of eating organic fruits and vegetables
  • The pyramid of health
  • Phthalate-free vs. BPA-free

Dr. Tom O’Bryan, gluten expert and founder of, talks about the importance of eating more whole foods and going gluten-free. He shares how to make fresh applesauce and why we should eat them daily. He also talks about phthalates and other toxic chemicals off-gassed by the things around us.


Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Well, it has definitely been a few weeks since I posted an episode. You know, when I started the podcast, I was very consistent with posting three episodes a week. I want to get back in the swing of things. My goal is to definitely start doing two a week. I’d love to be able to do that.

Unfortunately, my old computer broke, the one that my husband built me, and so he had to build me a new computer and that’s what’s taking so long. So finally, I’ve got a new computer. I’m back up and running, and I am so excited to bring you today’s interview. This last week, I’ve interviewed some really amazing guests. And this interview today that you’re going to hear is probably up in my top five, and that’s saying something.

Dr. Tom O’Bryan has got some really interesting things, we had such a great conversation, and he’s definitely going to be back on the show. Strap in your seatbelt and get ready to have a fantastic time listening to this episode. I know you’re also going to want to share it with your friends because it’s a great one.

Another thing you’re definitely going to want to know and share with your friends is that my favorite Magnesium Soak has their biggest sale of the year going on right now and for the next week. Check it out, go to, and you have to use coupon code LTH to get the discount. That’s coupon code LTH as in Learn True Health. It’s going on from November 20th to 29th. The sale is 30% off plus, for certain orders, they’re going to get a free gift. I’m excited for you to get that.

We have over 200 testimonials of listeners sharing their stories about how this Magnesium Soak has changed their lives in the Learn True Health Facebook group. I have absolutely just fallen in love with this Magnesium Soak over the years. Our son who always used to fight sleep, we would put it in his bath, and he would ask to be put to sleep. He would ask to be put down. After a bath he’d say, mama, I’m tired. I’m too tired to read books. Let’s just go to bed. I was like, whoa, this is amazing. My kid who will bounce off the walls until 1:00 in the morning wants to go to bed on time after using the Magnesium Soak in his bath. So that was the biggest conveyancer for me.

But I’ve had friends who no longer have migraines after using the Magnesium Soak, who are no longer in chronic pain. It helps balance hormones. It’s so phenomenal. Magnesium is the number one most important mineral. We need 60. There are 60 essential minerals the body needs, and magnesium is used the most by the body.

I have a really long and amazing episode about magnesium with Dr. Carolyn Dean who is both a naturopathic physician and a medical doctor. She’s been practicing for 40 plus years, and she’s really well known as the magnesium doctor. When she came on the show, I think it was something like a three-hour interview. It is really long and amazing, just filled with great information. You can find that by searching if you want to search for that episode, a great listen.

And what she shared was that magnesium is used in over 1800 enzymatic processes in the body as the number one most used mineral. The second most used is zinc at 800 enzymatic processes, so that’s a really big gap. Calcium is not even in the top two, and we always think calcium is the most important. Well, it is important, it’s just not the most used. So magnesium is the most used. Actually, magnesium is also the one that we’re most deficient in or the most common deficiency.

We talk in episode 294, which you definitely want to go listen to with Kristen Bowen, as she shares information on how you can tell you have magnesium deficiency, the best blood test to get if you want to test for it, and then talks about her experience with soaking in this magnesium. Now she also has a cream for applications if you have a specific pain or tension. My favorite is the Magnesium Soak, but I love the cream as well for local applications. If you just have tension in your legs or in your shoulders, it’s fantastic.

If you know anyone with restless leg syndrome, that is a magnesium deficiency. We’ve heard from listeners saying that their Restless Leg Syndrome has disappeared after using this Magnesium Soak. Kristen Bowen did some lab tests and discovered that we uptake grams of magnesium from this magnesium soak. It’s different from soaking in flakes or Epsom salt. It is far more efficient for the body to absorb it in the form that it is in. In the natural format it is in, the body uptakes it very easily instead of those other forms. And so, we see that people absorb grams. We’ve even seen people absorb 20 grams of magnesium in a one-hour foot soak, which is phenomenal.

Now I’ve had intravenous magnesium before and I know what that feels like. And when I use the magnesium soak, it feels very similar to that. I can actually feel it enter my body. So I definitely want you to try it. If you haven’t tried it already, you should absolutely go to, and you have to use coupon code LTH to get the listener discount. You want to use that to make sure that you get the best price you’re going to get, the 30% off. You might get that gift. She’s giving select orders a special gift, so I’m excited about that.

So go to and use coupon code LTH. Do that between now and November 29th. And if you’re listening to this after November 29th, you should still get it anyway because the LTH coupon code will give you a discount. Black Friday sale will be over after the 29th, but you’ll still get a discount if you use the coupon code LTH after the 29th, and it is still worth getting the Magnesium Soak and try it for yourself because of how amazing you will feel.

You can also join the Learn True Health Facebook group and check out over 200 testimonials that we have written there. Listeners, over the years, have been sharing their experience with it and how fantastic it is. And if you want to learn more about it, you can listen to episode 294. You can also listen to episode 381, but listen to episode 294 first because Kristen Bowen shares her story about how she was so sick she was about 97 pounds having 30 seizures a day in a wheelchair barely able to talk, and she went from that to being so healthy that she has also turned her life around, and now she’s helping others do the same, kind of like me.

I was really sick. Natural medicine I used to turn my life around, and now I’ve dedicated my life to spreading this information so that other people can no longer be suffering. Suffering should be an option. It should be optional because this information is out there. We just have to spread it. That’s why it’s so important to take these episodes and share them with your friends and family, those who no longer want to suffer who want answers. 

Listen, MDs, medical doctors, they have their place, right? Drugs have their place. But the problem is, we’re raised to believe that they’re the only thing when they’re not. They’re just one small piece of the puzzle when it comes to healing your body, and there are real remedies out there, there are real solutions out there to support your body’s ability to heal itself. And that’s what this episode is about today. And magnesium is one of those huge, huge fundamental keys because if you have a magnesium deficiency, there are over 200 different symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

Think about it, if your body uses magnesium in 1800 enzymatic processes, you could have migraines, you could have digestive problems, you could have muscle problems, you could have nerve problems. Magnesium is used in every system of the body. If you go to an MD, they’re not going to look at you and say, oh, your migraines are caused by a magnesium deficiency. That’s not how they’re trained. They’re not trained to look at nutrient deficiency like that. They’re trained to go, oh, you have a migraine. Here, take this medication.

Medication helps to mitigate a symptom, it doesn’t get to the root cause and supports the body’s ability to heal itself. My show is all about the tools you need and the things you can learn to achieve your true health. And the Magnesium Soak is one of those huge tools that I believe can help everyone because magnesium deficiency is such a common thing, it causes so many symptoms, and has a very simple solution. This Magnesium Soak, you bypass the intestinal tract so you don’t have to take it orally so your body can absorb more through the skin into the lymphatic system.

Check out those two interviews, 294 and 381, to listen more about the Magnesium Soak. Use coupon code LTH when you go to Get the Magnesium Soak. And then come join the Learn True Health Facebook group and check out all the testimonials and share your own. I’d love to hear your story, especially parents who go, oh my gosh, I can’t believe my kids. I put it in their bath and I can’t believe I’m noticing they’re calmer. I’m noticing they’re happier. Or children who have aches and pains from growing pains, oh yeah, this is fantastic.

When your kids are in pain, you don’t want to fill them up with drugs, right? Pain receptors are turned off by magnesium. When there’s a magnesium deficiency, pain receptors can’t turn off. Just like muscle cramps, muscle uses magnesium to relax, and it uses calcium to contract. So when you have a magnesium deficiency, it can actually have a hard time relaxing and so the contraction stays there, which causes a buildup of lactic acid and ischemia, and that’s incredibly painful.

So there are simple solutions, and these magnesium products are something I believe in fully because they’ve helped my life, they’ve helped my family, they’ve helped my friends. You don’t even know how many friends are now lifelong customers of Living the Good Life Naturally because I will always carry Magnesium Cream on me. I always soak my friends’ feet in magnesium when they come to visit. I even bring it over to their house sometimes, their homes. It’s been a wonderful gift and a blessing to share this. And then of course hearing over 200 listeners who’ve shared so far. Listeners keep sharing with me the benefits that they’ve seen.

This episode is in my top favorites. I’m very, very excited for you to hear it today. Dr. Tom O’Bryan has some wonderful insights to share, and I hope that you get a chance to listen to the whole episode and also share it with your friends because I just know this episode’s going to make a big difference in many people’s lives.

Come join the Learn True Health Facebook group. I’d love to see you there. It’s a fantastic community where we all uplift each other, support each other, answer each other’s questions, and increase about holistic health issues that we’re all looking to heal. And thank you. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this podcast. I feel truly blessed to be able to continue to spread this information to help you learn true health. Enjoy today’s interview.

[00:11:21] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 469. I am so excited for today’s guest this is something that my listeners have been begging for, have been asking for. To answer the question, where did my disease come from and how can I reverse it? How can I get to the root and stop being given prescription after prescription? I can’t tell you how many listeners are told by their doctors that they will always have to be on medication for the rest of their life, only to find out later that that’s not the case. That’s not the truth.

And it’s not that their doctors are evil. It’s that their doctors are misinformed because the entire medical system is filled with myths, and frankly, medical lies. And what I love about what our guest today does, Dr. Thomas O’Bryan, is he cuts through those lies, he cuts those myths. And with real grounded science, he shows you the root cause of disease and how you can finally get a grip, a foothold on your health.

I am so excited to have you on the show because your latest endeavor is Betrayal: The Autoimmune Disease Solution They’re Not Telling You. There are so many myths, and they’ve really muddied the waters when it comes to autoimmune disease because that is such a cash cow for the medical system, frankly. They don’t have any stake or any desire to reverse it, to prevent it, to stop it, but they’d love to test for it and to prescribe medications for the rest of your life. And again, I don’t see any one individual doctor is evil or has this malicious intent, but the system as a whole is designed to keep us sick and suffering, not designed to make us healthy.

So we have to seek out doctors like Dr. Tom O’Bryan in order to learn how we can achieve true health. Dr. O’Bryan, it is a pleasure to have you on the show today. Welcome.


[00:13:33] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Thank you, Ashley. It’s a pleasure to be with you. It truly is. I don’t think I’ve ever had an introduction like that before. That’s perfect. That’s right on the money.


[00:13:44] Ashley James: I’m on fire. I’m on fire. You lit me up. We had a great conversation before we hit record, and you lit a fire under me. I got a little preview today before we hit record of what Tom is going to talk about here, and boy oh boy are we going to have a fun show. Strap yourselves in and get ready to hit the share button, copy and paste, and just send this to every single one of your friends because they’re going to want to hear today’s show.

Now we keep hearing gorgeous birds in the background. I’m super jealous, but Dr. O’Bryan lives in Costa Rica. Is that right?


[00:14:20] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Yes, yes. My wife and I used to live in Northern Italy, a very beautiful area called Lago di Garda or Lake Garda. In March of last year, I was on a speaking tour in the US, and so my wife went to Dublin to visit friends. We heard that the epicenter of this viral scare outside of China was Northern Italy. And we said, what, what? It turned out, it was about an hour away from where we lived. I didn’t know what this thing was at the time, but I said, honey, we are not going back there. Let’s go to Costa Rica. She said, okay. Because I can be anywhere as long as I have a good internet to do my work, aside from my traveling and teaching.

And so, we came back to where we spent our honeymoon, which is in the Blue Zone of Costa Rica. And for those that don’t know what the Blue Zone is, it’s the one book that everyone must read if you want to be healthy and vibrant in your 80s and 90s and cross a century. This is where the pedal hits the metal. It’s called the Blue Zones. I’ll just give you a little background on that so people will go get the book.

Scientists noticed that there were cultures in the world where there was a large percentage of people that lived into their 90s, over 100 fully participating in society—still working, still active members, not put out to a retirement home. And they identified on a map of the world, they circled these places. And it was Okinawa, Sardinia, Costa Rica, and they call them Blue Zones. And they found a Blue Zone outside of Los Angeles. Everybody said, what, what?

Because in LA, if you run a 10-kilometer run, you breathe in as much particulate matter as if you smoked a pack of cigarettes. That was the air quality in LA about, oh, this was maybe 15 years ago. I don’t know if it’s changed. I’ve not looked into it. But that’s how it was around the turn of the century. You run a 10K run, so you’re out there for about an hour, a little less, a little more. You’re breathing in, inhaling into your lungs as much particulate matter as if you smoked a pack of cigarettes.

So you’re trying to be, but you’re sabotaging yourself. But they found this blue zone area, and it was Loma Linda outside of Los Angeles, which is the home of the Seventh Day Adventists. And so, they realize that it’s not, because I heard Blue Zone I thought oh, blue like the sky. Oh, it’s pure air. Yeah, air pollution is a problem. No, it wasn’t the air. Okay, blue. Oh, water. Maybe it’s clean water. Maybe there are minerals in the water. Well, no, that wasn’t it. They used the blue highlighter on the map. When they circled these areas, they called them Blue Zones. I love that little geeky stuff in there.

But it turns out, it turns out that there are nine factors that are consistent amongst all Blue Zone cultures where people are living into their 80s, 90s, over 100 fully functional, fully active, not on any medications. And the 55-year-old researchers are trying to follow the 90-year-old guy as he goes up the hill, and they’re huffing and puffing. This 90-year-old is just way ahead of them and they can’t keep up with them. These Blue Zones had nine features. So I’m going to tell you the nine features, but I hope that you all read the book because once again, this is where the pedal hits the metal.

You could read hundreds of studies about vitamin C and how helpful it is for you. I would not argue with that, but there are no studies that show long life longevity consistently amongst different cultures around the world except the Blue Zone. And when you read about these nine features of a Blue Zone culture and how do you start transitioning over to some of those, it changes your life. It’s a paradigm shift.

So the nine features. First, move naturally, which means walk, be active outside, not pumping weights. Pumping weights are okay, but that’s not natural to the body. You want balance. Move naturally.

Second, the Japanese term, hara hachi bu, which means eat 20% less. So the way that I have my patients do that is buy smaller dinner plates. Because you’re always going to want to fill your plate to whatever you’re accustomed to, so get smaller plates.

Third, a plant slant, meaning all these cultures eat lots of vegetables, lots of fruits, lots of vegetables, some fruits.

Fourth, grapes of life, meaning a little red wine is great for you.

Five, have a purpose. Now that you’ve got a passion and a purpose in life, it may be you’re 92 years old, and every day or three days a week, your job is you go to the local orphanage and you sit and hold these little babies, and just being beloved to them. But that’s your job and you love your job. It doesn’t matter what it is, but you’ve got a passion for what you’re doing. You’ve got a purpose in what you’re doing with your life.

Six, downshift, means whether you call it prayer, whether you can call it meditation, but having a little quiet time for yourself. Slow down, you allocate a little time for that.

Seven, belong. Belong to a community. Be with like-minded people. It might be the old guy sitting at the coffee shop drinking espresso watching all the pretty young girls walk by, and you feel like Waldorf, and what was the other guy’s name in the Muppets? The two old Ben on the balcony? Whatever that other guy’s name was, I can’t remember right now.

Eight, loved one first. That there’s a primary in your life where they witness you and they witness your life like no one else can.

And ninth, the right tribe. That you are a welcomed member of the family and you are not put out to pasture. That’s the Blue Zones. And when you read the Blue Zone book, it starts to make sense and you start evaluating how you’re living your life right now. 

But I tell you all that because it turns out, where we came for our honeymoon is the Blue Zone of Costa Rica. And so, we are living in the Blue Zone now. And the pace here, there’s no great surf towns where we are. With people coming from all over the world to go surfing and to party. This is the quiet. We have butterflies, hummingbirds, dragonflies, and monkeys here. It’s just very peaceful and quiet.

And what I’ve noticed in the last year, so we came here for our honeymoon in March of last year, and we got pregnant within two weeks of being here.


[00:22:05] Ashley James: Oh, congratulations.


[00:22:06] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Oh, thank you. So our son was born here, on New Year’s Eve. And he’s a Tiko, and we now are here and just loving life here in Costa Rica. And understanding more and more about why this is a Blue Zone environment. Why there are so many elders here who are fully functional and dynamic? Maybe we’ll get into a little more of that. But yes, we’re here in Costa Rica today.


[00:22:33] Ashley James: Apart from living longer or the average person living longer, is there evidence to show that there is considerably less disease? In Blue Zones, are there less rates of autoimmune disease?


[00:22:51] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: I’ve not seen epidemiological studies on the Blue Zones and disease across the culture. But what you do see in these people that they’re looking for to qualify and be categorized as Blue Zones, they’re not on any medications. They’re still working. They’re still active in their life. They’re vital people. They’re authentic with life, and they’re not sitting in front of what my father used to call the idiot box just zoning out to the television all day. They’re not doing that. They’re active members of society.

So in terms of the number of diseases they get, we can only assume. If they’re living into their 80s, 90s, and over 100, high percentages of them and they’re not on any medications, we have to assume that they’re not walking around full of disease because of the quality of their life that you can witness.


[00:23:47] Ashley James: It’s so exciting. We’re raised in a system and we have to become these observers. Leave your body mentally, leave your body and get this 30,000-foot view of your life and start to question the status quo. Because we were raised in a system that makes us believe the doctors have all the answers, we wait to get sick, and then we go get a pill. 

And one of my mentors, I’m sure you’ve heard of him, Dr. Joel Wallach, he grew up on a farm. He said to his dad when he was a kid, why do we give the calves these pellets to prevent disease? Why don’t we give them vitamins and minerals to prevent disease so they don’t get sick? Because it keeps the cost down. But humans wait to get sick, which keeps the cost up. Why don’t we use the same methods to keep the animals’ costs down for farming? Why don’t we keep that same mentality of let’s prevent disease in animals to keep the cost down, why don’t we also prevent disease in humans by taking the right vitamins, minerals, and eating the right feed for humans? 

And that’s what really struck him. And I actually heard his lecture when I was about 12 years old, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. That totally changed my perspective. I started to see the marketing. I started to see we are constantly marketed to fast-food restaurants, brand foods like Kellogg’s, for example. Were marketed to from a very young age so we grow up believing and we feel good. Oh, we see that familiar brand our whole life. We feel good going there. We get nostalgic. That’s very intentional the, I want to say, brainwashing that takes place.



[00:25:51] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: When you said Kellogg, what went in my mind immediately because I was born in the early ‘50s and so I grew up with all of that. What went in my mind when you said the word Kellogg? K-E-double-L-O-double-good, Kellogg’s best to you. I mean, it’s so burned into my brain listening to that marketing that it automatically came up when you said the word Kellogg. And we all are prey to that kind of subtle input. What do you call the box that hangs on the wall in the bathroom? It’s a medicine cabinet. The medicine cabinet. Why isn’t it a health cabinet? Why isn’t it a health cabinet? It’s a medicine cabinet.

We are brainwashed from day one to accept the healthcare system that we were born in. And unfortunately, usually, the vast majority of people have to get sick enough and frustrated with how the protocols that they’re trusting their experts gave them don’t work, and they have to get so frustrated and sick enough or their child has to get sick enough that they start looking for other alternatives. And then they find what looks like common sense like Joel Wallach was saying about farmers to keep the animals healthy, common sense basic things that completely turn around the way they look at the healthcare system, and we get hardened at times.

It’s kind of like a sequential order of development in getting to the light and stop drinking the Kool-Aid. There is a sequential order that happens for most people, and it’s shows like yours, hopefully, that help people accelerate through all of that so that they don’t have to suffer as much before they’re willing to question their pre-consumed beliefs.

I mean, here’s one that everybody should know. It should have been on the front page of every paper in the country. The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most prestigious journals in the English language, published a study. They looked at over 30,000 people taking an aspirin a day to prevent cardiovascular incidents. And they followed them for, I don’t recall if it was 7 or 11 years. Somewhere over seven years. I’m not quite sure how many more years they went out. It may have been 20, I just don’t recall.


[00:28:26] Ashley James: It’s a long time, significant.


[00:28:28] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: A long time taking aspirin every day, and what did they find in the reduction of people who were taking an aspirin every day and people who did not take an aspirin every day of the same age, same socio-economic class? What did they find in terms of incidence of strokes, heart attacks, and mortality from cardiovascular disease? Absolutely no difference. Taking an aspirin a day doesn’t work to prevent cardiovascular disease.


[00:28:55] Ashley James: No, it doesn’t work for that, but it does work in that Bayer has made a lot of money.


[00:29:02] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Oh, sure. They were able to spend billions and buy Monsanto.


[00:29:06] Ashley James: They sold a lot of aspirin, but it has not prevented cardiovascular disease.


[00:29:12] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Exactly right. And you take one aspirin and you create pathogenic intestinal permeability in your gut, meaning its slang term is leaky gut. From 1 aspirin, not taking aspirin for 10 days. From one aspirin you get a leaky gut and you alter your microbiome, and it takes weeks and sometimes longer for all of that to heal, if it even does heal. But when you take an aspirin every day, you develop pathogenic intestinal permeability, which we’ll talk about today, the leaky gut, which is the gateway into the development of autoimmune diseases.

But we all believe an aspirin a day is healthy for us because they market it to us that way, and it’s just not true. The epidemiological studies are now very clear about that.


[00:30:03] Ashley James: I believe that if they have to market, if they have to sell something to you for your health, run the other direction. If they’re marketing food to you, there’s a profit to be made and the cost is your health. No one’s running around going make sure you eat apples, make sure you eat kale. Make sure you drink enough water, drink enough clean purified water.


[00:30:30] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Can I tell you about apples for a minute? Can I tell you about apples?


[00:30:33] Ashley James: Yeah.


[00:30:34] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: You just hit a point. First, they’re usually number one or number two on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, meaning they are some of the most polluted fruits or vegetables you can eat with pesticides and insecticides. So you cannot eat conventional apples, and you’ll see why in this talk today. But organic apples, the biological value of organic apples is 34% to 52% higher than conventional apples, meaning they’ve got more of the good stuff, the meat in them.

When we have all of our patients, when you need to heal leaky gut, there are many steps you have to take, but one of them, Mrs. Patient, when you go shopping for your food, always buy organic. But buy about a dozen or a couple of dozen apples. Wash them, don’t peel them. Cut the seeds out, dice them up, put them in a pot, add water to a third the height of the apples in the pot. Throw a little cinnamon in there, maybe a couple of raisins. If you got kids, they like a little sweeter. Turn it on high to boil. In 10 to 15 minutes, you got applesauce.

That’s how easy it is to make applesauce. And you make sure that everyone in your family has at least a tablespoon a day. Why? Because the pectin in applesauce increases, arguably, the number one enzyme in your gut is called intestinal alkaline phosphatase, IAP. And what IAP does, it lowers total cholesterol if it’s high. It lowers total cholesterol triglycerides if they’re high. It stabilizes insulin sensitivity so your blood sugar stabilizes. It increases the good bacteria in your gut. It produces bacterial [inaudible 00:32:26] that kill the bad bacteria in your gut. And maybe most important, it also stimulates healing the leaky gut, so you make new cells, healthier cells. And arguably, most important, it grabs on and binds to what’s called lipopolysaccharides, LPS, which is the exhaust of bad bacteria in your gut.

If you exercise too hard and your muscle is sore the next day, you know that that’s lactic acid. Okay, it’ll go away in a day or so. Lactic acid is the exhaust of your muscle cells. LPS is the exhaust of bad bacteria in your gut. And what happens is the LPS goes right through the leaky gut into the bloodstream, and it gets stored in your spleen, your liver, and your lymph nodes, and it accumulates and it’s inflammatory in your body over time. LPS accumulates day after week after month after year after year. You accumulate more, you’re more inflamed. You accumulate more, you’re more inflamed. Until eventually, you develop what’s called sepsis.


[00:33:33] Ashley James: Oh my gosh.


[00:33:34] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Sepsis is the number one killer of elderly in the hospitals, 1.7 million people a year, get sepsis, of which 250,000 die every year, and it’s just accumulated crud from bad bacteria that’s been building up over the years that nobody ever checked for. When you eat a little bit of applesauce every day, you increase intestinal alkaline phosphatase, which acts like a sponge to grab the exhaust of that bad bacteria and escort it out in the poop. Until you get rid of that excess LPS, in the meantime, you’re using a healthy sponge to grab that crud and get it out of there.

So everyone needs to eat at least a tablespoon a day of fresh applesauce. The commercial stuff doesn’t work, but the fresh does. Organic, you got to get organic. But you see how many steps I gave you in that one recipe? First, you can’t eat regular apples because they’re at the top of the list of the Dirty Dozen, meaning every year, they’ve got the highest amount of pesticides and insecticides that cause inflammation in your cells and build up over the years. And you get cancers and autoimmune diseases from it, and we’ll talk about that today. So that’s first.

Second, it’s really simple to make this stuff, and especially with your kids, you make it a family thing. Third, it doesn’t taste like cardboard. I mean, it’s really delicious. And you just have to have a little bit every day. But fourth, is the daily habit. If you forget a day, you forget a day. But the idea is small doses over time because your body is going to thrive and build up more intestinal alkaline phosphatase, which lowers cholesterol, lowers triglyceride, stabilizes insulin sensitivity, stimulates more production of good bacteria, produces bacterial [inaudible 00:35:29] to kill the bad bacteria, and acts as a sponge to grab this LPS from all the bad bacteria in your gut and escort it out in the poop.

That was a profound recommendation I gave you. Excuse me for being bold about it, but it’s a simple thing that has so many cascade benefits for you and your family. That’s the way you turn around your health is by learning more of those little pearls again and again and again.


​​[00:36:00] Ashley James: Oh, absolutely. Applesauce, can you eat more of it? Could you have it for breakfast? Eat like a cup and a half of it every day for breakfast?


[00:36:09] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Of course, of course.


[00:36:10] Ashley James: So you can eat more.


[00:36:11] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: No, no, no, no. Yeah, it’s always good to have more, but just a little bit every day is going to set you in the right direction. Now the problem with having more is that most of us grew up on Coca-Cola and three Musketeers, or for me, it was Mountain Dew and Kit Kats. But most of us have grown up on that garbage food, those garbage sugars that have thrown our blood sugar way out of balance, way out of balance. Our blood sugar-regulating systems are functioning on a 1 to 10 scale. Most of us are functioning at 5.4 to 6.2, meaning we’ve got blood sugar imbalances whether or not we’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes. We’re already on the road of not functioning adequately, blood sugar levels, and we have to rebuild our blood sugar-regulating system. So that’s a whole nother dimension of discussion to do that.

So I like to start people on just a little bit of a great habit like having a tablespoon or so with applesauce every day. You want more? Have more, it’s fine. But you don’t want to eat too much because it’s naturally sweet, which is okay, but your blood sugar-regulating system has been so beaten up by what we accepted. Trix cereal when you’re a kid, Trix are for kids. Every spoonful of Trix is 50.4% pure sugar, every spoonful, and so our blood sugar-regulating systems get knocked out of balance very early in life. You have to have a big picture on that so that you don’t assault it further by eating good food, applesauce, but eating too much of it for your blood sugar-regulating system to control.


[00:37:59] Ashley James: I want to point out that you have other recipes you want to give the listeners. They can go to So you’ve got some other really useful healing recipes, and that one I’m absolutely going to do. The other day, we bought a bunch of organic apples from a farm locally, and so they’re fresh, big, big box of them. Unfortunately, we peeled them and we made our own apple butter. We just simmered down to where it was like a thick concentrated apple sauce. But oh my gosh, this stuff’s amazing. My son loves it.

So I’m just going to take your advice. I’m going to get more of those apples from the local farm and keep these peels on because the peels are great fiber as well, and then we’ll start making our own applesauce every day because I love all those benefits you just mentioned.

Now in terms of clearing that gunk that can lead to sepsis as it builds up in the body, is there any way to clear it from the spleen, from the liver, and from the lymph system?


[00:39:11] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Oh, yes, yes. You know, when people want a different result, so when I moved from Chicago to Southern California, I needed a map to get there. I mean, I’d love to drive, and so I drove cross country, you need a map. And sometimes you’re on the map, oh, there’s a detour and so you got to go around, there are obstacles, but you need a map.

So when your level of health is at (I’ll make up a number) 6.2, and you want to get to an 8.4. I mean, everybody wants to be at 10, but be realistic. You just want to have a vibrancy and good function, every year be a little bit healthier if you can, but it takes time. But you’re at a 6.2, how are you going to get to an 8.4? You need a map. You need a map.

When you want to learn how to read maps, when you want to learn how to read your body, you have to start with a 101 information. And then you go to 102 and maybe 103, then you go to 201, then 301, and then 401. Now you’ve graduated with a bachelor’s degree in taking care of your health. Maybe you’re going to go on to the master’s level and really dial down on some particular areas. And a few will go to the Ph.D. level and be a world expert in one particular topic that you’re learning about in terms of health.

So what you’re asking about getting rid of stored lipopolysaccharides, LPS, is absolutely true. When you get to about the 400th level, you realize, wow, I really need to learn what we do to detox as a family on a daily basis. How do we start getting rid of all this crud? Because there’s so much to learn. It’s the baby steps you take over time that cumulatively make the difference? Because as you go from 101 to 201 to 301, the information gets more disruptive. It’s like, what? What? What did you just say?

I’ll give you an example. Chicago 2016, 346 (I think it was) pregnant women. They checked their urine in the eighth month of pregnancy, and they were looking for five different phthalates. Phthalates are chemicals used to mold plastic. The one that we’ve all heard about is BPA, Bisphenol-A. Oh, I use BPA-free bottles. I buy my water in BPA-free bottles. Well, that just means that they’re using BPS and they don’t have to tell you, and it’s much more toxic than BPA. But it’s going to take years before people understand that BPA-free is not safe. Phthalate-free is safe, but very few plastic bottles will say phthalate-free. But those are the companies that are really putting out the effort, not BPA-free. You see that, that’s alarm bells for you.

They measured the phthalates, five different phthalates in these 346 pregnant women. And there are many more than five, but they measured the top five. They categorize them into quartiles, meaning the lowest quartile, the lowest fourth, the next level of phthalates in urine, the third level, and the highest level. So they put these 346 women into one of those four categories, the lowest to the highest. They then followed the pregnancies and the offspring of these pregnancies for seven years.

When the children turned seven years old, they did Wechsler IQ tests on them, that’s the official IQ test. There’s not much in medicine that’s all or every, but this was every. This is what? Every child whose mother was in the highest quartile of phthalates in urine in pregnancy, compared to the children whose mothers were in the lowest quartile of phthalates in urine in pregnancy. Every child in the highest quartile, their IQ was 6.7 to 7.4 points lower than the kids whose mothers were in the lowest quartile of phthalates. What? 

Now, that doesn’t mean anything to anyone until you understand a one-point difference in IQ is noticeable. A seven-point difference is a difference between a child working really hard getting straight A’s in school, and a child working really hard getting straight C’s in school. This child doesn’t have a chance in hell of ever excelling in school because mom was high in phthalates in urine in pregnancy. Then you go to Google, the great library in the sky, and you type in phthalates and neurogenesis, nerve growth. Here come the studies of how phthalates inhibit brain cell and nerve growth. So the higher mom was in phthalates in her urine—meaning in her blood and then filtered into the urine—the lower the baby’s IQ seven years later.

Where does mom get phthalates? Well, you read my book, You Can Fix Your Brain, it drops your jaw because you see the studies that say, do not store leftover food in plastic containers in your home. Because if you put the leftover chicken in a plastic storage container in the refrigerator, the next day, the chickens got phthalates in it. The phthalates, the chemicals used to mold plastic leach out of the plastic containers. Do not buy coffee in a coffee shop and put a plastic lid on it because the steam rises, it condenses on the inside of the lid, it drips back down into the coffee full of phthalates. You put that coffee cup up to your lips, the hot liquid hits the underside of the coffee lid, tapers down into the opening, and you drink it through the opening full of phthalates.

You start learning about these plasticizers—chemicals used to mold plastic—that are in our environment. You read the studies that show that when you apply nail polish, the phthalates in your nail polish are in your bloodstream in four to five minutes.

Now, there’s no evidence that the amount of falsehoods that leach out of nail polish into your bloodstream, the amount of phthalates that leach out of plastic containers into your food, or the amount of families that leach out of a plastic lid into your coffee or tea are toxic to humans. There’s absolutely no evidence of that, and that’s very true and that’s how they get away with this.

It was the Toxic Substance Control Act where they paid off the senators, they paid off the representatives to pass this legislation that says you have to show the amount of phthalates that leach out of plastic are toxic to humans. There is no evidence that the amount of phthalates that leach out of a plastic storage container is toxic to humans. There is no evidence, that’s how they got away with it.

And at the time that this legislation was proposed, consumer groups were saying you can’t use that as the benchmark if it’s toxic to humans because this stuff accumulates in the body, and it’s the accumulated cumulative amount of these different chemicals interacting inside your cells. Immune system trying to protect you.

So give me a little girl who puts nail polish on her 10 little fingers and her 10 little toes starting at five years old. Give me 25 years of that little girl applying this nail polish with minute amounts of phthalates leaching into the bloodstream that accumulate in the body in her fat cells. Now, she’s 25, 30 years old, she gets pregnant, hopefully she has a healthy pregnancy and a healthy delivery. Now seven years later, you check that baby’s IQ, they’re seven points lower than the moms in the lower level of phthalates.

That’s what’s happening in our world today, and the statistics I’m going to give you about brain function today are because of this. Because of the accumulated amount of toxins that we are exposed to and the level of chemicals is rising every year in our water, in our food, in our air. Let me just jump to the study that I told you about earlier. I’m going to go out of sequence here.


[00:48:06] Ashley James: Oh, please. Oh, yes. Let’s do it. Absolutely.


[00:48:08] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: This is from the Journal of the American Medical Association. This is in the Journal of the American Medical Association, arguably the number one most prestigious medical journal in the English language, arguably. And the editors wrote a comment before the article. This is the quote, I’m reading the quote, “an elegant example of a prospective epidemiological study,” meaning the possibilities of what happens across time for people, “that uses sophisticated biological markers,” meaning indicators, “to identify a subclinical,” meaning you don’t get any symptoms, “effect of pesticide exposure on human health.” 

So I’m going to read that sentence again because it’s a geeky, JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association sentence. But what they’re saying, “an elegant example of a prospective epidemiological study that uses sophisticated biological markers to identify a subclinical effect of pesticide exposure on human health.” And what did they do?

They looked at pregnant women, a large group of pregnant women, and they compared pregnant women who were eating high levels of fruits and vegetables and those that were not eating fruits and vegetables every day. And they were looking at conventional fruits and vegetables, meaning what you buy in the supermarket that’s not organic, which means it’s got high pesticides on it. So many of our fruits and vegetables now are GMO, which means they bred these plants in a laboratory to live after they’re exposed to lots of pesticides and insecticides so they don’t die. But they’re loaded with these chemicals now to kill the bugs that were growing on the plants. And what did they find?

They found that compared with women in the lowest fourth, once again, they divided these women into fourth. The highest fourth of fruits and vegetables, the next level, the next level, and the next level. So they compared women who were eating less than one serving a day of conventional fruits and vegetables with women who were eating more than 2.3 servings per day. Now that’s nothing. You give me a salad. It’s got lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrot, maybe some sliced radish, that’s more than 2.3 servings of fruit and vegetable per day. And so they compared the lowest amount—less than one serving, to the highest fourth—more than 2.3. If you were in the highest quartile of eating fruits and vegetables, which we all think is good for us, more than 2.3 servings per day, you had an 18% lower probability of getting pregnant and a 26% lower probability of a live birth.


[00:51:18] Ashley James: Meaning miscarriages or stillbirth.


[00:51:21] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: That’s exactly right.


[00:51:23] Ashley James: So women have a harder time getting pregnant, and if they do get pregnant, they very likely lose the baby.


[00:51:34] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: And one out of four of them lose the babies, one out of four by eating fruits and vegetables.


[00:51:39] Ashley James: Conventional. And the key to this is that they were conventional, which is the opposite of “organic”. So conventional is you go to a restaurant and you get a side salad. You go to a smoothie bar, you get fruit in your smoothie or whatever. But if you’re eating out at a restaurant, 99.9% of restaurants aren’t going to choose organic. It’s going to be conventionally grown food. Or if you just go to the grocery store you don’t discriminate.

You pick up an apple, some avocado, and some carrots because you were told you should eat more vegetables because you’re pregnant. Most women increase their fruits and vegetables when they’re pregnant, but most women also don’t buy organic. So we’re leading into, and we have been for a while, a huge problem where the women have problems conceiving and carrying a child to term, and they end up turning to medicine for major drug interventions, fertility treatments because they think it’s something wrong with them when it’s actually the chemicals being sprayed on the food.


[00:52:59] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: That’s exactly right. And that these chemicals accumulate in your fat cells. They have an affinity for the fat cells in your thighs, your hips, and your lower abdomen. These toxins accumulate over the years, 10 little fingers and 10 little toes of nail polish starting at 5 years old for 20, 30, 40, 50 years. When you read my book and you read the studies that show plastic blinds in your bedroom outgas phthalates into the air and you’re breathing this stuff for six, seven, eight hours when you’re sleeping all night every night. You’re breathing minor amounts.

Now, there’s no evidence that the amount of phthalates that leach out of plastic blinds is toxic to humans. That’s how they get away with this, or the flame retardant chemicals in your sheets, your blankets, and your comforters. You wash them 20 times and they still outgas flame retardant chemicals into the air. Now, there’s no evidence that the amount of flame retardant chemicals that leach out of your sheets is toxic to humans. That’s how they get away with this. But this stuff, these minute amounts, are accumulating in us. That is the primary reason why all of our autoimmune diseases are exponentially skyrocketing in the last 20 years.

You look at the amount of chemicals coming into the environment, the amount of chemicals in your drinking water year after year after year that increase the amount of chemicals in the air that we’re breathing, and you look at the graph of that and you look at the graph of autoimmune disease increase, year by year, they’re neck and neck. I mean, it’s not rocket science to look at this stuff. And when you see this and when you go, oh my God, how can this be? They wouldn’t allow it. Of course they allowed it. They got paid off to pass legislation that doesn’t have any teeth.

So this is what we’re up against. Now, let me give you another statistic, just to drop your jaw a little further if it hasn’t fallen far enough yet. Excuse me, but we all need to know this kind of information. Blue Cross Blue Shield—arguably the largest for-profit health insurance company in the English language—published a paper last year entitled Early-Onset Dementia and Alzheimer’s Rates Grow for Younger American Adults. And they show that between 2013 and 2017, that the incidence of Alzheimer’s in the ages 30 to 64 tripled in four years. It tripled in four years, and when they broke it down by decades, the 30- to 44-year-old people from 2013 to 2017, the incidence of Alzheimer’s went up 407% in four years.

Now, this is all the people out there saying, oh, you know, I’m getting older. I don’t remember the way it used to, haha. Well, how old are you? Well, I’m 38. No, that’s not supposed to happen ever. Somebody has a heart attack, unfortunately, they have a heart attack, but they survive. They change their diet. They start exercising. Six months, a year later, they look better than they’ve looked in years. You look great. I feel great. I feel really good.

Unfortunately, someone gets diagnosed with cancer. They go through the protocols, they put the cancer into remission. Hey, how are you doing, man? Oh, I feel great. I’m doing really good. No one knows anyone diagnosed with a brain deterioration disease who’s doing really good.

So when you start talking about the brain to people, they check out. It scares them, and they make silly jokes about it because they just don’t know what to do. I’m telling you, you have to learn to read the map of what’s going on right now in your brain. And when you understand that in this last decade, the incidence of Alzheimer’s is exponentially going up every year because of all the toxic chemicals we’re being exposed to.

Our friend, Dr. Dale Bredesen, who wrote the book, The End of Alzheimer’s, and it’s an excellent book to read. He tells us that of the five types of Alzheimer’s, the most common type is inhalation Alzheimer’s. 60% to 65% of all Alzheimer’s cases are inhalation. It’s what’s your breathing that goes straight up through your nose, the olfactory nerves right back to the memory center of the brain and causing inflammation. Your immune system gets activated trying to protect you from what’s in the air you’re breathing, and you get all this inflammation in the memory center of your brain killing off brain cells, killing off brain cells, killing off brain cells. This is no fluke.

When you walk out to the parking lot of the shopping center you say, now, what lane did I park my car in? Where are my keys? That person I walked into, what’s their name? What’s their name? It’s no fluke, and it’s not stress. It’s that the hippocampus, the memory center of your brain, is on fire. It’s inflamed, and you’re killing off brain cells, killing off brain cells, killing our brain cells like never before in history. And in four years Blue Cross Blue Shield tells us 30- to 44-year-olds, their incidence of Alzheimer’s went up by 407%. This is what we’re up against.

This is like, wake up, world. Wake up. If we don’t understand this toxic world that they’re always telling, oh, it’s safe. Don’t worry about it, it’s safe. No, it’s not. No, just read the science. There’s so much good science now. Like this thing about conventional fruits and vegetables and pregnancy. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know about that study. I’m so embarrassed because I found it. That study came out in 2018. That was three years ago, and I didn’t know about this study. I now know and I’ll make sure that everyone in my audience hears that study.

And that you start heading in the direction of growing more food yourself. Get a little bay window in your kitchen and grow some herbs, right? And maybe get some pots. They’ve got these things now. You can put it in your backyard, these stands, and there’s a hose that water runs through and you grow your lettuces and your cucumbers out of these stands now. You don’t even need a big garden space. You can grow it on a balcony.


[01:00:05] Ashley James: Yeah. I have a friend that sells those and she filled an entire room. It’s like a sunroom off of her house. She filled the entire room with those stands, and she grows all of her family’s fruits and vegetables in their house, basically. That’s what she does for a living. It’s really interesting to watch what she does. If anyone, any listeners want her contact information, feel free to contact me and I’ll pass it along.

This year has been hellish for me, and my listeners who’ve been listening for a while know my story, but I lost my daughter during birth. She passed away while I was giving birth to her in April. And then like three days later I had COVID. That was a fun whammy. I have noticed that since COVID, and for me it was like a triple whammy recovering postpartum, recovering from grief, and recovering from COVID. I noticed a significant decrease in my cognitive abilities, and I’ve noticed a significant decrease in my memory, specifically nouns. I’ll be like, can you pass me that thing over there? Oh, yes, a spoon. And also with names. I’ll be like, oh, I interviewed this doctor. His name is, and then I can’t remember his name whereas I could before.

It’s been slowly getting better, but it’s definitely concerned me. And I’ve looked into and seen that a lot of people, post-COVID, say that they have a cognitive decline. And even they’re showing the brain scans, the smaller brains. The brain shrinks during COVID. So I think that not just for me, but for a lot of listeners who have had COVID, and of course your book, I definitely recommend that listeners read it because it’s not just this one thing, but it is everything. It’s everything we’re eating, it’s everything we’re breathing that we need to take into account in order to heal our brain. For people who’ve had COVID, what can we do to really make sure we’re supporting our brain health and getting it back as much as possible?


[01:02:30] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I don’t want to ignore what you said. Thank you for sharing that, and I’m very sorry for the loss for your family. And I know that something is integrating into you. That never goes away, it just becomes a part of who you are, right? And it’ll fuel you to carry you forward to talk about health issues.


[01:02:55] Ashley James: Thank you. Mental and emotional health is also physical health, and it definitely affects it. I think it’s important that we talk about and we acknowledge the losses that we have instead of burying it deep inside.


[01:03:10] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Critically important.


[01:03:11] Ashley James: Yeah, don’t bury it inside. Have the courage to talk about it and to ask for support when you need it. We need to do that. So yeah, healing the brain after COVID.


[01:03:25] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Yeah, I’ll get to that. Let me just say one thing here with what you’re talking about. In my book, You Can Fix Your Brain, I talk about the pyramid of health. And there are four sides to a pyramid. No, there are three sides to a pyramid. No, there are four. There’s also a base. And so, you have to look at any health condition from four sides.

First, the base and that’s your structure. That’s the home of chiropractic, osteopathy, exercise, massage, yoga, posturing, your car seat in the car—all of the things that affect your muscles, bones, and ligaments are critically important for any health condition because that may be the trigger causing any health problems that you may have. So that first is the base. Next, one side of the pyramid going up is your biochemistry. That’s what you eat, what you drink, what you breathe, the medications you take, the nutrition you take, the foods you choose.

Next is the emotional or spiritual side, as you were just starting to talk about. And the last one is the latest one. In the last 15 years, it has become just as relevant as the other three, and that’s electromagnetic pollution. That all four sides of the pyramid of health have to be looked at when you’re dealing with a health issue and you’re not getting the results that you want.

So many people that we see over the years, not exaggerating, so many of them and they’ve been to many doctors—complementary medicine, alternative medicine, functional medicine doctors—and they’ve gotten better, but they’re not there yet. And they get to us and where do we find the problem? It’s in the mental or spiritual side of the pyramid of health.

They buried something and they haven’t integrated it into their lives stepping forward, and it’s the emergency brake. If you back out of a driveway and you say, what? What’s wrong with this car? It’s moving but it’s so slow. Oh, the emergency brake. And you let go of the emergency brake but then you back up just fine. It’s the emergency brake in your pyramid of health that doesn’t get addressed because we think it makes us weak if we’re talking about our issues, our upsets, or something. We have some preconceived notion so we hide it or we bury it.

I am really impressed with you, Ashley, and I don’t know you at all. This is the first time we’ve met today, but you can reference such a traumatic event in such a healthy way in this short period of time since it occurred. What that tells me is that you’re integrating, you’re really working to integrate. And I honor that baby, that spirit, and who’s always part of your family in this lifetime, but you’re integrating it. And so, kudos to you for that. 

And you’re modeling for everyone out there, if this woman can do that with what she has just gone through, you can do it with a divorce where that idiot was treating you so poorly years ago, and you still have fears and apprehensions about relationships. Meaning, you can integrate whatever has happened to you, you just need some coaching and some help, and you got to find the right people to do it. But you work to integrate the emotional trauma so that you detox from it. That’s how you detox. The detox is not just chemicals you got to get out of your body. It’s any emergency brakes that are holding back your health. 

I did not want to miss the opportunity to acknowledge you for how you’re modeling this, and I want everyone to understand what they just heard. Maybe go back and listen to this again and listen to her voice. Listen to how she stuttered a little bit in her voice because this is extremely painful, and that she’s not just breezing over it like la la la, but she’s present as she’s talking to us about it. And she’s not sobbing right now, and she may at other times during the day, that’s very healthy to do. But she’s making it present for us. That’s what we all have to do with whatever the emotional traumas are on the mental-spiritual side of our pyramid of health.

So now, back to the brain question, what do you do? What do you do if you’ve had COVID and you’re noticing brain dysfunction or brain dysfunction in general? First, you need a map. You have to understand where you’ve got to go to get through to the destination of better brain health. What am I referring to? The rule is test, don’t guess. So you have to test, is my brain inflamed right now? Do I have inflammation in my brain because then I thought I was going to do a sequential presentation here today, but you and I are just flowing, which is really great. 

The first point I was going to bring up today is that every degenerative disease, without exception, that comes into your practice doctor or that comes into your home mom is a disease of inflammation. The cell is on fire. The question is, is it a kidney cell or a brain cell? Is it gasoline or kerosene? But it’s always inflammation.

So I’m going to tell you now and I’ll get to the brain question, I’m leading into it. I’m going to tell you now about Professor Alessio Fasano. Professor Fasano, he’s my friend and my mentor. We think he’s going to win the Nobel Prize one day, we truly do because this is the guy—he and his team are the ones who identified the mechanism that causes this thing we now call leaky gut. They identified how it happened back in 1997 they identified, and they’ve been studying it and writing papers about it for over 20 years now. There’s no question that this is the gateway to the development of autoimmune diseases.

So Professor Fasano, he is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, Chief Pediatric Gastroenterology Mass General Hospital at Harvard, the Director of the Mucosal Immunology Center—that’s the lining of your lungs, the lining of your gut, the lining of your brain—at Harvard. The director of the Celiac Research Center at Harvard. This guy has five titles. Any one of these titles is a lifelong goal for someone at the top of their field, and he’s got five. This guy is in another dimension in terms of the contributions he’s giving to us, and what I’m about to tell you is what they’re teaching at Harvard Medical School right now.

This is what our future doctors are learning right now. Professor Fasano wrote this paper last year for all of us, and you can google it. You can google the paper and download it. The title of the paper is, All disease begins in the (leaky) gut. All disease begins in the (leaky) gut. The role of zonulin—that’s the protein that causes leaky gut—in the development of pathogenic intestinal permeability and chronic inflammatory diseases. And what he tells us is that there are five pillars in the development of inflammatory diseases. Every disease that comes into your office doctor is an inflammatory disease, and there are five pillars in how they develop.

First is your genetics, and you can’t do anything about your genes. That’s the deck of cards that you were dealt. And some people say, well, I can turn off the gene. You cannot turn off genes. Genes don’t operate on an on-off switch. Genes operate on dimmer switches. And you can dim down the genes of inflammation, but they’re still there. They need to be there. And you can ramp up, turn up the genes of anti-inflammation.

For example, many doctors have heard about the studies, you eat one cup of blueberries a day (organic) for three years and your brain’s working as well as it was 13 years ago at one cup of blueberries a day. Why? Because the blueberries dim down the genes of inflammation, and they turn up the genes of anti-inflammation regeneration in your brain and other parts of your area. But the first is your genes. So you can’t turn them on and off but you affect the dimmer switches.

How do you affect the dimmer switches? By number two of the five pillars, environmental triggers. What your body is exposed to from the environment is the hand on the dimmer switch turning on your genes to brighter or turning down your genes to less bright. It’s the environmental triggers. And the most common environmental trigger is when the end of your fork. That’s most common, but it’s also what’s in the air, what you put on your skin, all the environmental exposures to our body come into play here.

And also, what’s happening inside your body. The geek word is endogenous, meaning inside the body. The endogenous triggers, what are those? The stress hormones that you’re producing on a daily basis ramp up your genes of inflammation. Stress hormones turn up inflammation, that’s their job. That’s what they’re supposed to do. Excess stress hormones cause disease. Normal levels of stress hormones keep us alive, that’s why we make them, they’re good for us. But it’s the excess that causes disease. That’s the environmental triggers.

Also, internal endogenous is all the chemicals stored in your body, the lead in your bones. Why do you think postmenopausal women, their brains go down so quickly compared to before menopause? It’s because when they go through menopause, they’ve worn out their adrenal glands and the adrenal glands can’t handle the stress of life anymore. So now, they’re in a state of depletion, and you start losing bone because you’ve got more inflammation and you’re in a state of depletion.

The adrenal glands are supposed to make 1/10 the estrogen that your ovaries used to make. When you go through menopause, the adrenal glands are supposed to take over, but if the adrenal glands are dysfunctional, they’re deficient because they’ve been worn out. Because they’re the gland called the stress glands, the stress of life. And they’re worn out and they can’t make that 1/10 the estrogen that your ovaries used to make, now you develop estrogen deficiencies because the adrenal glands are not doing their job. 

And when you have estrogen deficiencies, you get bone loss. And when you get bone loss, what’s inside the bones is the lead that you’ve been exposed to for the last 50 years in minute amounts. And when it gets in your bloodstream and the brain says get that stuff away from me, it’s stored in your bones. Petrochemicals are stored in your fat cells, heavy metals are stored in your bones and other areas. But now, you’re postmenopausal and you’ve got an estrogen deficiency because the adrenal glands are worn out, and now you started losing bone and in that bone is the lead you’ve been exposed to. 

Now it’s in the bloodstream, lead goes right to the brain, causes inflammation in the brain, and your brain deterioration accelerates. That is the most common mechanism for postmenopausal loss of cognitive function. This causes this causes this causes this causes that. So anyway, so that’s the environmental triggers, that’s number two from Fissano.

Number three, altered microbiome. The environmental triggers that we take in that cause so much stress, so much inflammation destroys the good bacteria in our gut and creates a space for more bad bacteria to grow and prosper. That’s called dysbiosis, and that’s where the LPS comes from, the exhaust of the bad bacteria. But now we’ve got this altered microbiome, dysbiotic microbiome, which creates number four of the five pillars.

And number four is the inflammation from the dysbiosis in your gut creates the leaky gut. Mrs. Patient, your intestines are a tube from the mouth to the other end, one big long tube about 20–25 feet long, winds around in the center there. The inside of the tube is lined with cheesecloth. And so when you eat food, when you swallow a bite of steak, for example, you chew it four or five times and you swallow it. You should do it 15 to 20 times, but we don’t. So you guzzle it down a couple of chews and you swallow them. Those shreds of meat fiber can’t get into the bloodstream. They’d be very poisonous to the bloodstream. Your digestive system has to break down the meat fibers. How did they do that?

Your enzymes act like scissors. If you think of protein like a pearl necklace, you chew, swallow, the acid in your stomach undoes the clasp of the pearl necklace. Now you have a string of pearls. Your digestive enzymes act like scissors to snip that pearl necklace smaller, smaller, smaller, snip, snip, snip, snip, snip until you’re down to each pearl of the pearl necklace. That’s called an amino acid. The amino acids, the pearls of the pearl necklace, go right through the cheesecloth. They’re small enough to go right through the cheesecloth into the bloodstream.

Now those amino acids in the bloodstream are called the building blocks, and they build new bone cells, new brain cells, new muscle cells. That’s how we get our raw material to make new cells is by our enzymes snipping them down smaller, smaller, smaller until they go right through into the bloodstream. The problem is when you’ve got inflammation in your gut, you tear the cheesecloth. That’s called leaky gut.

When you tear the cheesecloth, now bigger molecules of this food that’s in the process of being digested, but bigger molecules slip through the tears in the cheesecloth into the bloodstream before they’re supposed to get through. Now these bigger molecules in the bloodstream, they’re called macromolecules, big molecules. Now your immune system says, whoa, what’s this? This is not good for me. This is not safe. I better fight this. Now you make antibodies to wheat, to dairy, to beef, to chicken, or to tomatoes. It doesn’t matter what the food is. If a macromolecule gets through into the bloodstream, now your immune system trying to protect you is going to fight that. And so leaky gut is number four, and the activation of your immune system is number five, systemic immune activation.

Now your body, in your bloodstream, there’s lots of inflammation, and depending on your genetic vulnerability, if you’ve got the gene for Alzheimer’s, the inflammation is going to your brain. Other areas, but it focuses on your brain. If you’ve got the gene for breast cancer, the inflammation is going to your breasts. If you’ve got the gene for rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation is going to your joints. If you’ve got the gene for MS, it’s going to your nerves. It doesn’t matter. All diseases are inflammatory, and Professor Fasano is showing us these are the five pillars in the development of chronic inflammatory diseases.

So when you understand this, then as a consumer, you start asking the question, okay, so what environmental triggers are inflammatory in my life, or what’s the state of my microbiome right now? Do I have intestinal permeability, the leaky gut that I have to rebuild the microbiome so that I calm down that inflammation? Do I have elevated antibodies to gluten right now, to dairy, to beef, to chicken, to Klebsiella, to staff, or to strep bacteria that you’re exposed to? What is my immune system fighting right now?

This is the pathway, this is the map that you have to look at and you have to start exploring to figure out, where do I need to direct my attention? So the concept from someone who comes from the paradigm that we were raised in where their home has a medicine cabinet and they come to me and they say, what do I take to get rid of my rheumatoid arthritis? We have to have this discussion over a number of visits to say, you need to change your questioning. We need to change your paradigm, and you need to understand, this is going to be a six-month to two-year journey to figure out why you’ve got osteoporosis right now, why you have cognitive decline, why is your sense of smell going, or whatever that condition is. But you need to change the paradigm of how you think about that, then we start teaching you how to read your map as to what’s going on in your body right now.

So that’s the five pillars from Fasano that every medical student at Harvard is being taught right now to think about these five pillars. So the question about your brain function, and what do I do? You need the map. And the first thing you look at is, is there inflammation in the brain? Well, obviously there is because it’s not functioning properly, all right. How do I identify the inflammation? And the test is called the Neural Zoomer Plus because you zoom in on the problem. The Neural Zoomer Plus. 

The laboratory also offers the Neural Zoomer. That was the first test and that’s got eight markers on it of brain inflammation, but the Neural Zoomer Plus has 48 markers on it. So you get this blood test done, and you look to see how bad is it right now? And it’s going to be bad. You want it to be bad because if you see, oh look, I’ve got 18 antibodies elevated in my brain right now killing off brain cells, by definition, when the antibodies are elevated, they’re killing off brain cells. Okay, so I’ve got 18 right now, how do I deal with it? So I’ll give you a couple of examples.

One of the antibodies that I look for is called gangliosides. Ganglioside is a component of your nerve fibers. And if you have those antibodies elevated, you’re killing off the nerves. Well, we know that gangliosides when you start losing gangliosides because of elevated antibodies, one of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathies. That’s numbness and tingling in your fingers, your toes, your cheek, and your tongue. It doesn’t matter where it is, it’s peripheral neuropathy.


[01:24:06] Ashley James: Sorry to interrupt. That’s a common symptom that people have been complaining about after having COVID.


[01:24:14] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: You think? I’m from Chicago and in the immortal words of Rosanne Rosanna Danna, “you think?” Of course, of course. So, you want to know, do I have elevated antibodies to gangliosides? Okay. You do in this example. What do you do? Well, the first thing, where are they coming from? And we know, if you just read the science, and I’m this geek that I’ve been reading the science now for 30 years, wheat and problems in wheat. And when you read the science, I show you the studies that say peripheral neuropathies are the most common nerve symptom when you have a sensitivity to wheat—most common. And 22% of all celiacs have peripheral neuropathy.

Every single one of them with peripheral neuropathies has elevated antibodies to gangliosides—100% of them. And when you get gluten out of the diet in those people, the ganglioside antibodies go down to normal. Take six months to a year, it depends on the individual, how well they comply, and how successful we are in teaching them. But every single one of them, if they’ve got peripheral neuropathies and they have a sensitivity to gluten, put them on a gluten-free diet, the ganglioside antibodies go down. That’s how you deal with gangliosides, you just check. Do I have a problem with wheat? And that test is the Wheat Zoomer, the most comprehensive test in the world.

I traveled the world teaching. I was on stage in Lisbon six weeks ago in Milan and Georgia last weekend, and it’s the most comprehensive and the most accurate test in the world. Just read the science, I just won’t take the time to explain all that to you guys right now. Read about it. So you do the Wheat Zoomer and you do the Neural Zoomer Plus.

Now the Wheat Zoomer, it’s the most accurate test for intestinal permeability that’s out there. So with those two blood tests, Wheat Zoomer and Neural Zoomer Plus, now you have an idea, do I have leaky gut right now? The gateway in the development of autoimmune diseases, do I have leaky gut? And the answer is yes, you probably will. Do I have a sensitivity to wheat? And the answer is yes, you probably will. Even those who are gluten-free for two years still have elevated antibodies and it shocks them when they find out, and then they start to learn why. We teach you all of that how the inadvertent exposures add up. 

And some doctors out there say, well, just have a low gluten diet. I have no room for that kind of gobbledygook, and I am in their face. Hey, doc, can you show me one study where a low gluten diet was safe to the immune system, that the immune system was an activated low gluten diet? And they can’t, there’s no such thing as a low gluten diet calming down the inflammatory cascade. They made it up because they want to be nice guys, and most patients won’t comply gluten-free unless you teach them how to do it properly. And these doctors just don’t take the time to learn how to do it properly. Excuse me, I’m a little worked up on that one. I need to calm down and be more politically correct.


[01:27:36] Ashley James: No, I absolutely love it. I love it because about 11 years ago, my husband and I learned about this and we cut out barley, wheat, rye, and oats because oats contain gliadin, which is similar to gluten. Might as well just get rid of them too while you’re at it. We didn’t do many other changes in that one month, just cutting out barley, wheat, rye, and oats. I lost 25 pounds of water weight, and my husband and I, both of our wedding rings, which we had custom made, were flying off our fingers. And so we waited six months before we had them resized because we were like well, we don’t want this to all of a sudden bounce back and that our rings don’t fit on our fingers.

When we had them resized, I went down 1.5 ring sizes and my husband went down 2 ring sizes, and that was from cutting out barley, wheat, rye, and oats. It was going gluten- and gliadin-free. I come up against people who say, well, I tried that for a few months and I didn’t notice a difference, so I just went back to eating it. And I get it.


[01:28:43] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Here’s a problem with that one. It’s called the tacks rule. Sit down on four tacks, you jump up really quickly. Take two tacks out and sit down again, it doesn’t reduce the pain by 50%, you understand? I mean, there’s more than just wheat. You may have a dairy sensitivity. You may have lectin sensitivity. You may have bacteria. You may have an abnormal microbiome. The tacks rule says you have to be comprehensive. You can’t do it piecemeal. You have to find out where is the inflammation coming from, you can’t do it piecemeal.

So back to your question about the brain, you do the Neural Zoomer Plus and I’m going to give you one more example of 48 antibodies and many of them come back positive. I’ll give you one more. It’s called the RAGE antibody. When it’s elevated, that’s a sign of brain inflammation and deterioration. And where does that come from? We’ve known for a long time that when you cook food, when you add heat to protein, you brown it, you change the shape of it like barbecuing. Beef, when you get those black lines from the grill, you burn the beef. They’re called advanced glycation end products, AGEs. 

Bread, when you knead bread, it feels really good in your hand. You get that nice elasticity to it. I used to be a baker in another lifetime, you get that nice elasticity. But when you bake it, there is a crust. That’s advanced glycation end products. And when you eat advanced glycation end products, they’re a little bit of gasoline on the fire. There is no way to avoid having any inflammation in your life, that’s not possible, but you can certainly reduce excessive inflammation. 

But when we eat foods that have been cooked at high temperatures and change the structure of the food, they produce advanced glycation end products. That’s an argument of why more raw food in our diet is a good thing or lightly cooked foods. Not a raw food diet, I’m not recommending that, but most people rarely eat raw foods like having celery as a snack or peanut butter on celery for your kids as a snack is a great idea.

But these advanced glycation end products, they’re in your bloodstream. Now, the way that hormones and some other substances get inside your cell is that there are receptors sitting on the outside of the cell. The receptor is like a catcher’s mitt facing the bloodstream, and the pitcher throws the ball to the catcher. So you have estrogen receptor sites sitting outside the cell, and estrogen in the bloodstream goes by, it gets magnetically pulled into that receptor site for estrogen.

Thyroid hormone will not go into an estrogen receptor site. It goes into the thyroid receptor sites. Testosterone will not go into a thyroid receptor site, an estrogen receptor site, or a progesterone receptor site. It goes into a testosterone receptor site. So receptor sites sit on the outside of the cells facing the bloodstream and act as magnets to pull in whatever they’re supposed to.

Well, there are receptor sites on our cells called receptors for advanced glycation end product. And what’s the synonym for that? RAGE, receptor for advanced glycation end products, RAGE. And when the RAGE receptors get activated by advanced glycation end products, it turns on lots of inflammation inside that cell. So the more cooked foods we eat that have changed the protein structure of the food, meaning high temperature, the more advanced glycation end products we eat, the more inflammation we turn on inside ourselves.

So RAGE antibodies are one of the antibodies on the Neural Zoomer Plus test. So if you have elevated antibodies to RAGEs on your brain function test, what do you think you’re going to do? One of the recommendations we give is, let’s get more raw foods and slow-cooked or low cooked foods in your diet, Mrs. Patient, and the RAGE antibodies come down in six months. But you have to learn all of these little steps that go with every one of these 48 antibodies to your brain to reduce.

I’ll give you another one, Herpes Simplex 1, the herpes virus that causes cold sores on the mouth for so many people. You get a cold sore in your mouth, it’s a herpes virus sore, you’ve got inflammation in your brain. It’s almost guaranteed. Why? Because your immune system can’t keep the virus under control and you’re having an outbreak, meaning there are elevated levels of the virus in your bloodstream. So you’re likely going to have elevated antibodies to Herpes Simplex 1, HSV-1. That’s another one of the markers on the Neural Zoomer Plus.

So if that comes back positive in your Neural Zoomer Plus test, Herpes Simplex 1, now we have to look at how is it that the bank account of your immune system is so low that you’re overdrawn and your immune system can’t keep this virus under control? How is that happening? Where are you draining the bank account of your immune system? And how come your immune system doesn’t have the energy to keep this virus under control?

So then we start looking for other bacterial infections in your body like Klebsiella, Proteus, or E.coli. Klebsiella is the number one infection in hospitals for people with lung problems. If you develop pneumonia in the hospital, it’s very likely a Klebsiella infection. So what do you look at? We have to look to see what other bacteria and viruses your immune system is fighting right now. And then we have to go after Klebsiella. So of course, we give natural products. We do a sensitivity test to see will your Klebsiella be killed by olive leaf extract or by some herbs, or do we need to use the big guns and bring antibiotics? Sometimes you need to. That’s called a sensitivity profile to find out how are we going to kill your Klebsiella.

And then you have to look at where the Klebsiella coming from that’s inside your body. And where do you look? We teach people about their showerheads. Those showerheads form biofilms that accumulate behind the showerhead right up in there, and every time you turn that shower on, you’re blasted with millions of bacteria, especially if you live in warm climates.


[01:36:00] Ashley James: And breathing it in.


[01:36:01] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: And breathing it in. Every time you turn that shower on, the aerosol in the air, you’re sucking in lots of Klebsiella, Proteus, or it just depends on what’s in your showerhead. So it’s so overwhelming and it’s so comprehensive to do this. But that’s why the subtitle of my book, You Can Fix Your Brain—I’m going to get to that. But that’s the answer to your question about how do you determine what your current brain status is. You do the Neural Zoomer Plus and the Wheat Zoomer and you find out and then you have to explore, all right, now I see the map and I want to get from here to there, how do I get there? 

Well, that’s going to take you six months to a year to do and you read my book and you start to understand all these little steps. Like phthalates in your plastic storage containers, in your nail polish, or in the air. If you go to my site,, you download the article from NASA that two six-inch house plants in a room absorb 73% of the toxins in the air so that you’re not breathing it all night, the House plant breathes it in. 

You just have to learn all of these little steps. And that’s why the subtitle to my book, You Can Fix Your Brain is, Just 1 Hour a Week to the Best Memory, Productivity, and Sleep You’ve Ever Had. Now, what do I mean by that? That’s not some cute little moniker. It is the only way that you will be successful in stopping the deterioration in your brain. I believe it in my heart and soul, it’s the only way. Well, what the hell do you mean by that, doc?

Every Tuesday night after dinner, every Sunday after services, whenever it is, but every week, without exception, you allocate one hour and you tell your family, don’t bother me. I’m going to study to learn a little bit more about how to make us healthier. And you’re going to go back to my book, you’re going to come back to this podcast, you’re going to listen to it again, and you’re going to listen to this thing about nail polish. Oh, that’s right nail polish. And you’re going to look for organic nail polish. 

You’re going to go to my book and you’re going to open up to glass storage containers. I give you three URLs:,, and whatever the third one is, I don’t remember. And you go to the one, you say, oh those, I really like those. And you order three round ones, two square ones, and one for the pies. You pay with your credit card, you hit send, and you’re done. It took an hour. You’re done for the week. But never again are you going to poison your family by storing leftovers in plastic storage containers. You’re going to start using the glass storage containers, and then you’re done with that one.

Next week you’re going to tackle nail polish. Next week you’re going to look at this house plant thing, and you go to the nursery. I give you the list of plants, and you’re going to go get some plants. Oh, I don’t have a green thumb. They’re going to die. Well then you’ll buy more so that your kids are not breathing these toxins, right? And every week you just learn one more thing. Now you can do two hours a week if you want, but the concept is you have to be patient with yourself. You have to be kind to yourself because this is so overwhelming. It’s a paradigm shift from what you thought was safe. 

What they’ve told you out there in the marketing to buy their stuff, they don’t tell you that the nightstand next to your bed, if it’s not solid wood it’s pressboard. Pressboard is soaked in formaldehyde. And it outgases formaldehyde for years in your bedroom. You’re smelling formaldehyde every night. Well, I can’t smell it. That doesn’t mean a thing. Or the kitchen cabinets, if they’re not solid wood, they’re pressboards and they’re soaked in formaldehyde, and the varnish that you’re breathing. And when you start learning about air pollution, oh my God, I need an air filtration system. Yes, you do. Well, what do I get? Well, you go to my website and we tell you all about air filtration systems or you just start doing your research.

But every week you take one more thing. And in six months, you’ve dialed this down, you’ve got it, and you really are on the path now and you’re calm. And you get frustrated when you learn things like this article in the journal the American Medical Association about pregnant women and conventional vegetables. I was so upset that I didn’t know about that because this came out three years ago. You’re still going to get rocked every once in a while, but now you have a paradigm to hold all this in. You understand that it’s you and your family against the world out there, against the commercial world of what you’ve been told is safe.

It’s not you and your family against the world. Don’t ever social distance ever. You may have to physical distance, maybe, but not social distance. But it’s you and your family against the commercial world out there.


[01:41:12] Ashley James: Against the mainstream media. Use your own brain, learn critical thinking. A free website is Pick through it, begin to study critical thinking. It’s called the Trivium and the Quadrivium. It’s a 2500-year-old way of critical thinking that was taught for 2500 years, but it was systematically taken out of the education system 150 years ago when they invented what is now the modern education system, the Prussian education system. Because the education system now is meant to make good little factory workers or good little citizens that comply, not free thinkers with critical thinking.

But the Trivium is still taught. It is the best way to learn very quickly, and children can learn it too, how to critically think and how to listen for the linguistic fallacies. And when you learn it, you will see the matrix. The matrix, the little green numbers will start to come down as you watch mainstream media and you read the titles of articles, you will see the fallacies, the linguistic lies, and manipulations.

And then go read books by Edward Bernays and you will learn the propaganda that they have been stringing us along, and they’ve been getting better and better and better at it—at manipulating us with words and controlling our reality with their marketing. Everything is marketed to us. Every channel you turn on the TV, it’s all marketing. Every news story is marketing.

We have to train our brain to filter information and not blindly take it in and allow this information to bypass our critical faculty. We have to train our critical faculty. I recommend studying the Trivium so that you can learn linguistic fallacies and then you can start thinking for yourself and identifying when they’re trying to do the thinking for you.

I wanted to point out, I did an interview with Andrew Pace. I’m going to give you his information. I think that you guys should hook up if you haven’t already. He is a third-generation building contractor who in the late ‘70s had a very intense incident where his workers fainted after using what is a “non-toxic” substance to seal a sealant from concrete. And that’s when he dove into this world and realized that all the materials that are rubber-stamped by the EPA are not healthy, are incredibly toxic, and harmful.

And he shares a story about how the EPA 10 years ago built a new building, a new headquarters for themselves. Out of all the building materials that you could go to Home Depot to buy, or Lowe’s or whatever, that are all rubber-stamped and approved by the EPA, so, therefore, we believe they’re safe, that you could go and build your own home or your own office with them—commercial or residential. And their building was so toxic that 100 of their workers 10 years later are still permanently disabled from the off-gassing of all of the building materials of their brand new headquarters.

Now, these are the same people that said they were safe, and what they admit themselves is over 90% of what they approve 100% never gets tested for safety. So in that interview I did with him, he goes into detail about that, episode 453. I think that that is really important because he also talks about formaldehyde and how prolific it is in every home and every office. And we have to really be conscious about filtering it and getting rid of it.

And then I also have a similar—this reminded me of it, I wanted to tell you about him. Dr. Troy [inaudible 01:45:07] who is here locally to me in Seattle, and he has personally saved his own money and spent tens of thousands of dollars of his own money. Almost every year he does a 30-day fast and he tests his own blood for all of the major chemicals that you mentioned, all the environmental toxins. And what he’s trying to show is that certain types of fasting can actually remove these forever chemicals. And what he discovered is that it has to require a binder. 

Fiber is a binder, heated activated charcoal, but that our liver will try to get rid of them, but then they’re immediately re-uptake by the colon because bile is reabsorbed, and bile is what these forever chemicals are bound to. And so a binder, when he did these blood tests, found that when he did activated charcoal during his fasts, he had significantly lower levels of these forever chemicals.

He’s trying to get that study off the ground, but it’s just him and now another one of his friends is doing it because he’s not interested in making money, he’s just interested in getting this information out there. But he goes around and learns from all these doctors and figures out how to get rid of these forever chemicals in the body. I just thought that was right up your alley because this is what you’re talking about.


[01:46:36] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: You bet. Yeah, please send me the contact for Andrew and Troy


[01:46:41] Ashley James: Absolutely, I will. And I have to tell you, and this is not to toot your horn, I don’t say this to guests, you’re definitely in my top 10, probably my top 5 interviews I’ve ever done, so I have to have you back on the show. I said it at the beginning of the show, but I really did mean it. You take the science, the real science, not the quack trying to sell us more garbage science, but the real science of how our body works and how we can get to the root cause.

Inflammation is at the root of disease, but before that is what is causing the inflammation, and that is exactly what you’re exposing. And I love that you’re realistic. It takes some time, years. I’ve been on my health journey, 2008 is when I started my health journey. I was incredibly sick, very, very sick with many illnesses. I was told I’d never conceived naturally, I was on constant antibiotics. I had adrenal burnout, polycystic ovarian syndrome, type 2 diabetes. 

I was so sick in my 20s, and when I was 28 years old, my husband and I sat down and watched some food documentaries on Netflix and we started to shop the perimeter of the grocery store and eat organic. And eating organic that first month, my chronic infections went away. And I thought, if I can change my immune system, in one month my chronic infections I no longer need to be on constant antibiotics because I chose to eat organic. And I hadn’t even cut out gluten or dairy. 

I just shopped the perimeter of the grocery store, ate more whole foods, and ate organic. That’s what led me on this long journey of mine where I’ve healed those issues, and I’m still healing, I’m not done yet. But I’ve come so far, and I know that the keys you’ve given us today. Everyone who applies them is going to go light-years with their health, myself included. I feel so blessed to have had you on the show today to shed light on this information.

Now, you have this book about healing the brain, and then you have Betrayal: The Autoimmune Disease Solution. Now, you have more than a book though. Don’t you also have videos? Can you talk a bit about how we can plug into you and learn more from you ongoingly?


[01:49:11] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Sure, thanks so much. Yeah, I’m awkward in trying to say this information in a way that people can hear. I should preface by saying, don’t shoot the messenger.


[01:49:37] Ashley James: Right. People are in love with their gluten products. I get it. They don’t want to give up. Now, here’s the thing. We didn’t even touch on that most of the foods that are harming them also trigger the dopamine response, so they legitimately have an addiction. They have a biochemical addiction to the foods that are hurting them. And so, yeah, they’re going to get upset when you take away their [inaudible 01:49:59]. You’re taking away the thing that brings their brain joy. 

I can tell you how I’ve been gluten-free for so many years, now I’ve messed up once in a while. Listen, I don’t blow up, I don’t break out in hives. My hair doesn’t fall out if I have one meal with gluten in it, but I can tell for over a month after one meal with gluten in it, I can tell I have inflammation in my body. I do my best to be 100% gluten-free.


[01:50:25] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Well, I’m glad to hear that. It’s one of the things—my 10-month-old son is crying for me or reaching for me, so I just told my wife I’ll be done in a few minutes. The problem with wheat is not wheat. I mean, for most people the ratio is 8:1. For every one person that gets gut symptoms from eating wheat, there are eight that don’t. They get brain symptoms, joint symptoms, kidney symptoms, or bladder symptoms. They don’t associate what they ate with having a migraine the next day or having a seizure. But just google seizures and celiac or seizures and gluten, here comes studies when you read this.

So the ratio is 8:1. And so, the real danger is that when you have a sensitivity to wheat and if your genetic vulnerability—number one of the five pillars from Fasano—is to the collagen of your joints, when you make antibodies to wheat, those antibodies go into the bloodstream looking for wheat, looking for wheat. They’re looking for a protein signature of wheat. I call it an orange vest, so they’re looking for the orange vests, that specific protein structure of a wheat molecule to identify and to kill it. And unfortunately, that protein signature of wheat is very, very similar to the protein signature of your joints, the collagen in your joints. 

So the antibodies looking for wheat, if your genetic vulnerability is to collagen, those antibodies start attacking your collagen. It’s called molecular mimicry, or if your genetic vulnerability is to MS, those antibodies to wheat will start attacking the myelin, the saran wrap around your nerves is what causes MS when you lose myelin.

So when you have exposure to wheat and the antibodies get turned back on to wheat, so you’ve turned on the assembly line to make antibodies, that assembly line stays on for anywhere from four to eight weeks. From one exposure, you’re making antibodies now. If you get a vaccination, if you’re going to Africa, you need vaccinations months and months in advance for yellow fever, Dengue fever, and all these crazy things because it takes months to build the assembly line to make the soldiers, the antibodies for yellow fever and Dengue fever, it takes a couple of months. But then when you go there, if you’re exposed, you’ve got the antibodies in your bloodstream. Great.

If you go back to Africa 15 years later, you just need a booster shot two weeks before you go. And everyone has heard booster shots, well, you just have to wake up. You just have to flip the switch to turn the assembly line back on. You don’t have to build the assembly line again, which takes months. You just have to turn the switch on, and within a day or two, you’ve got antibodies to yellow fever and Dengue fever back in your bloodstream again.

The same thing happens with wheat. You give up wheat, you feel better, everything is great. I’m going to have a little at the holiday, it’s no big deal. I’ll feel bad for a day or two. You say, you can tell for a month, that’s how sensitive you are. So you have an exposure, the assembly line gets turned back on making the antibodies to wheat, but that’s not a big deal for most people. They don’t feel it when that’s going on and they get back on the wagon again and they get off of wheat, they’re fine.

But the assembly line is going to stay on for a couple of months. It doesn’t go away the next day, it stays on for a couple of months. And the lifespan of the antibodies that are produced towards the end of that six- to eight-week period is four to six weeks themselves. So now you’ve got these antibodies to wheat continually in your bloodstream for three, four months from one exposure. Just read the science and you go, holy cow.

And if your genetic vulnerability is to MS, those antibodies are attacking the myelin in your nerves. And for three or four months, you’re killing off more myelin, killing off myelin, killing off myelin as a result of a single exposure. That’s the OMG that nobody knows about until you start reading the science.

So these doctors that say, well just cut down, go low gluten, you’ll be okay. Nonsense. There is no science behind that at all, and the science says that’s absolutely false, and you’re accelerating their degenerative disease and their vulnerabilities from number one of the five pillars, your genetic vulnerability. You’re accelerating. You’re turning that dimmer switch up brighter for MS, for rheumatoid, for chronic fatigue, for seizures, for psoriasis, for thyroid problems, Hashimotos, or for lupus. 

I mean, just read the science and you see that for some people, the weak link for them, their genetic vulnerability is to XYZ disease. And then just type in XYZ disease and gluten, here come the studies that for some people, you take gluten out of their diet, their psoriasis goes away. Well, this is why. This is why. So you can’t be a little pregnant, you can’t have a little gluten once you’ve crossed the line. I couldn’t let that slide, I have to say.


[01:56:41] Ashley James: Yeah, no, thank you. Like you said, don’t shoot the messenger. But here’s the thing, once they learn how to make these changes, and you said, if you can do one hour a week, baby steps. A year from now, you will have a whole different body, a whole different life. You will feel so much better if you do baby steps. I’m sure you teach in your book the baby steps we can do. Your website, which is, right?, fantastic information there.


[01:57:22] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Excuse me, I forgot to answer your question about Betrayal, I forgot. I got diverted. So let me tell you about that and that’s where we’ll wrap it up. My wife and I went to seven different countries and I went looking for the world experts in immunology. And I know who these guys are and these women because I’ve read their papers. And so, I knew what to ask them. I didn’t say, well, doctor, please tell us how you got interested in this field. I didn’t do any of that garbage. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t say that.


[01:58:00] Ashley James: I need to stop asking that question.


[01:58:01] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: So Professor, you are world-renowned in reversing type 2 diabetes, and sometimes type 1 diabetes. How is it that an acetylcysteine can impact on the development of type 1 diabetes? And that’s where I started, with questions like that. And they go, oh. Not many of them get excited. They’re not animated. They’re geeks and they’re very calm, but they talk about it.

Then I went to the clinicians around the world in seven different countries who were studying this work and applying these principles, and I asked them to invite two or three of their patients who would follow their recommendations. And then I interviewed the patients who reversed their MS, reversed their rheumatoid, reversed their chronic fatigue, reversed their multiple chemical sensitivities, reversed their major depressive disorder. It didn’t matter what the condition was. Eighty-five people we interviewed, and we put it together as a docu-series. You hear three minutes of this person, seven minutes of that one, nine minutes of this one, and two minutes of this person back and forth as a story.

I’ll never forget the woman in London. She said, I took the tube to come here today, the underground train. And she said, I walked the seven blocks from the tube station to here, that’s not a big deal. But then she got a little teary-eyed and she said, but it is. And then we show you the pictures of her two years ago in a wheelchair, she can’t walk because her MS is very severe. And I show you her MRIs with seven lesions on her brain causing the MS. And then here she is two years later, no symptoms whatsoever, and the MRIs are two lesions left on her brain. 

That’s the power of this work when you find the map and you understand there are many detours and you have to find, according to Fasano, the five pillars. We put all that together in a docu-series, it’s called Betrayal: The Autoimmune Disease Solution They’re Not Telling You. We’ve had over 600,000 people watch this. It’s free. You just go to and it’s right there for you. You watch this and then you understand the journey that’s in front of you. Okay. You say, well, I really need to read these books. All right, I’m in. Wow, that’s great. 

You see these real people in real-time, many of them are crying when they talk about how hard it was for them, they lost a child, or whatever their story is, but they’re authentic. They’re authentic people. Jesus, I got tears in my eyes now because I sat with each one of them. I just listened and asked the questions, and I explained to them before they were on camera, I said, we probably will talk about some upsetting things here, but there will be thousands and thousands of people who may benefit from you sharing your heart, sharing your experience, and how difficult it was. That’s Betrayal, and it’s free for everyone to see at


[02:01:40] Ashley James: I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it. Imagine the entire world has the information in your head. Just imagine if everyone in the entire world had the access to the information in your head, in one generation we could end disease. This entire world would be turned upside down. We’d no longer create those chemicals that are killing us. The entire commerce, all of manufacturing and commerce would be changed to have ecology for ourselves, for our community, and for our planet. Ecology means is it healthy for you, is it healthy for your neighbors, is it healthy for the soil, is it healthy for the air? And if the answer is no to any one of those we don’t do it. We don’t do it.

We have to make products that are ecological for every sphere, right? I’m not talking about climate change. Climate change is a terminology that is a part of their carbon credit taxation, all that stuff. It’s politicized. I’m talking about actual toxins and pollution. Notice that they don’t mention acid rain and they don’t actually talk about pollution anymore. They don’t because they have an agenda, right? So I’m not even jumping on that train. I’m not saying there is or there isn’t climate change.

What I’m saying is you know what there is, there is pollution. There is pollution and it is killing us, and you are teaching us how to avoid this pollution that is in our food, in our water, in our air, and how to heal our body. And these people are suffering. There’s suffering happening everywhere. And if everyone had the information that you give, then we would change this planet in one generation. So that’s why I’m so excited for the work that you do. I’m excited for my listeners who are hearing this and who are sharing this episode with those they love.

Now, I’m going to have the links to your books and the links to everything that you do, that Dr. O’Bryan does in the show notes of today’s podcast at Your books are absolutely going to be the best Christmas gifts, Hanukkah gifts, holiday gifts that people can receive. So buy it now, buy it early, wrap it up, put all your friends’ names on it, and give possibly the best gift of all. The path towards their true health, the path towards them making these changes that are life-altering to get their brain back. Oh my gosh I can’t wait. 

I’m so excited learning from you today, and please come back on the show. I want to have you back. We have so much more to talk about. I can’t wait to have you back. Go cuddle your 10-month-old, he sounds adorable. Thank your wife for us also for lending us to you. Go enjoy the rest of your beautiful day in Costa Rica. We’re all a bit jealous of you. We all want to move there and live in the Blue Zone with you, I think that would be wonderful. But we’ve got to create our own Blue Zone in our own household, right? And we can do it. We can take on and copy the same changes that everyone else made that live in those Blue Zones. Is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview?


[02:05:10] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Just be kind to yourself in this process. It’s so overwhelming, it freaks people out. There’s a Tibetan word, and I don’t know if I’m going to say it correctly, but this is the operating dynamic to be successful in this journey. The word is maitri, and it translates as loving kindness and an unconditional friendship with one’s self. Just know that you’re doing your best. You’re your best friend, just lighten up a little bit, and don’t think you have to get it all right now. Just be kind to yourself, but just be consistent.

And the last thing I’ll tell you is the other end of the spectrum from the [inaudible 02:05:59] talking about maitri. There was a guy in Chicago, a writer at the Chicago Tribune. His name was Studs Terkel, and he wore a fedora cigar in his mouth all the time, and was just a gritty, guttural guy, a great writer. He’d hung out in this local bar and was an icon in Chicago. When he leaves the bar every time, apparently, I don’t know if it’s true, but that’s the story. It may have gotten exaggerated a little bit, but he’s walking out, he puts his fedora on, he’s walking out. He takes a cigar. He turns around, takes a cigar out of his mouth, and says, take it easy, but take it. And then he walks out. So everyone, take it easy. Be kind to yourself, but take it one hour a week, every week. And thank you so much, Ashley, for the opportunity.


[02:06:56] Ashley James: I love it. Dr. Tom O’Bryan, it’s been such a pleasure having you on the show. I can’t wait to have you back. This has been quite a ride.


[02:07:05] Dr. Tom O’Bryan: Thank you.


[02:07:07] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview with Dr. Tom O’Bryan. Wasn’t he wonderful? I can’t wait to have him back on the show. Be sure to stay tuned. We’ve got more great interviews that I am just itching to release that I’ve done lately and I’m excited for you to hear.

Remember to get the Magnesium Soak I was talking about, the absolute, amazing Magnesium Soak, and also the Magnesium Muscle cream, which is wonderful for pain and for relieving tension. So many listeners have said that they rub it on their shoulders, their neck, and their jaw right before sleep and they notice that they relax and have better sleep afterward, so check it out. Go to and you have to use coupon code LTH as in Learn True Health to get the fantastic sale that’s going on right now. Use that coupon code anytime though because we get a fantastic discount on top of any sales that happen. So that is, coupon code LTH.

Have yourself a fantastic Thanksgiving if you’re in the United States and you’re listening to this before Thanksgiving. And if it’s after Thanksgiving, I hope you had a great one. And wherever you are around the world, whenever you’re listening to this, I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day.


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Books by Dr. Tom O’Bryan

Betrayal: The Autoimmune Disease Solution They’re Not Telling You

The Autoimmune Fix

You Can Fix Your Brain

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