On this week’s A Different Perspective, Dr. Mitch Sutton, Dr. Sam Wagner, and Nurse Practitioner Nicole Saleske fill in for Dr. Flynn and cover a variety of topics: cholesterol and its effect on the immune response, the herb Rehmannia, Justin Bieber’s Ramsay Hunt syndrome diagnosis, and the dangers of glyphosate in the body.
Dr. Mitch starts out the show by sharing that Dr. Flynn is visiting our clinic in Ireland and that the Wellness Way Green Bay team will be filling in, starting with Dr. Sam.
Cholesterol: A Building Block for Defense
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Dr. Sam kicks off the education segment of the show by introducing the topic of cholesterol for the immune system. While some topics may seem repetitive, it’s important for us to improve our understanding of which things we’re doing are supporting our immune response and which things we’re doing are weakening our immune response. Ultimately, we want to help our bodies function as optimally as possible.
Today, we’ll dive into the medical literature and learn the role cholesterol plays in our health. One of the biggest things we want to stress as we go into this: The Wellness Way is not anti-medicine; we’re pro-health.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is overall a lipoprotein molecule. Cholesterol is:
- Required for immune defense and hormonal response
- The main driving factor that gives rise to all our steroid hormones
There are two main lipoprotein molecules that carry cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). We know them as “bad cholesterol” and “good cholesterol.” Cholesterol makes up a large portion of these molecules. However, it’s important that we don’t see cholesterol and these lipoproteins in a negative light.
Programming From the Powers That Be
The overall perspective of cholesterol has been misconstrued in a way that’s detrimental to our health. According to the American Heart Association:
Cholesterol is a waxy substance. It’s not inherently “bad.” Your body needs it to build cells and make vitamins and other hormones. But too much cholesterol can pose a problem.
The AHA emphasizes that cholesterol can create disruption and negative issues. This view from the trusted American Heart Association is detrimental to our health long-term. WebMD is another example. They, too, emphasize “bad cholesterol” and “good cholesterol.”
We need to get away from this mindset altogether. It’s why we continue to have an increase in chronic diseases in the United States. We’re having worse outcomes because of our narrow perspective –not seeing the full picture. Rather than manipulate the body, let’s focus more on restoring function.
The National Institutes of Health also emphasizes the dangers of high cholesterol:
High levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol cause plaque (fatty deposits) to build up in your blood vessels. This may lead to heart attack, stroke, or other health problems High levels of “good” HDL cholesterol may actually lower your risk for health problems. HDL cholesterol carries cholesterol and plaque buildup from your arteries to the liver, so it can be flushed out of the body.
All it talks about is what high levels of LDL cholesterol do to cause damage to the body. They don’t mention how low LDL can damage the body.
Even if research cholesterol using the search bar, these are things people are asking:
- How can I reduce my cholesterol?
- What are the warning signs of high cholesterol?
- What food causes high cholesterol?
- What is a normal high cholesterol level?
It’s all talking about high cholesterol, assuming it’s all bad. We’re constantly being programmed into thinking high cholesterol levels are bad and low levels are good. Again, this is what is contributing to our high rate of chronic disease processes in the body.
From here, Dr. Sam dives more into the research on cholesterol and how if your health is bad, lowering cholesterol isn’t always the answer. The whole goal is to restore health; not to manipulate it.
Cholesterol is Important for Health
Cholesterol is vital to our health and wellbeing. Even Harvard Health Publishing says… How it’s made: Cholesterol production in your body:
Only about 20% of the cholesterol in your bloodstream comes from the food you eat. Your body makes the rest.
There’s even newer research suggesting that it’s only 10% of the cholesterol in your bloodstream comes from the foods you eat. That means your body makes roughly 90% of it. Every single cell in our body needs cholesterol. It’s an integral part of all our bodily functions. How can cholesterol be so inherently bad if our body makes 80 percent of it?
So, what are some of the solutions that are given when cholesterol is high? Again, the NIH jumps right to statins for the treatment of high cholesterol.
Statins are the most common medicine used to treat high blood cholesterol. Studies have shown that statins lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with high LDL cholesterol. Statins usually don’t cause side effects, but they may raise the risk of diabetes. However, this mainly happens in people already at high risk of diabetes, such as those who have prediabetes, overweight or obesity, or metabolic syndrome. Statins may also cause abnormal results on liver enzymes tests, but actual liver damage is extremely rare. Other rare side effects include muscle damage. Learn more about how you can stay safe while taking statins.
Medicine to treat familial hypercholesterolemia. These include mipomersen, ezetimibe, and lomitapide. Ezetimibe may also be used if statins cause side effects, or if statin treatment and lifestyle changes do not lower your “bad” LDL level enough. In rare cases, these medicines can cause liver injury. Your doctor will check your liver enzymes regularly and may recommend that you take vitamin E.
When we talk about genetic or hereditary issues: Genes load the gun but it’s our lifestyle and environment that pull the trigger. What we do with our bodies, how we nourish our bodies, and how we support our bodies, how we listen to our bodies are so important to your health.
Are Statins Effective?
Going further, when we talk about statins… a study on statins’ effectiveness was published in 2017: Effect of Statin Treatment vs Usual Care on Primary Cardiovascular Prevention Among Older Adults: The ALLHAT-LLT Randomized Clinical Trial.
Going into the study, researchers admitted that there wasn’t a lot of evidence that statins were effective as a treatment:
While statin therapy for primary cardiovascular prevention has been associated with reductions in cardiovascular morbidity, the effect on all-cause mortality has been variable. There is little evidence to guide the use of statins for primary prevention in adults 75 years and older.
The researchers concluded: “No benefit was found when pravastatin was given for primary prevention to older adults with hyperlipidemia and hypertension.” So, research isn’t even supporting the use of statins for cardiovascular disease.
A review study published in 2018 admitted the same thing – that not only does statin treatment not prevent cardiovascular disease, but LDL cholesterol isn’t the cause of heart disease: LDL-C does not cause cardiovascular disease: a comprehensive review of the current literature.
The introduction admits:
For half a century, a high level of total cholesterol (TC) or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) has been considered to be the major cause of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD), and statin treatment has been widely promoted for cardiovascular prevention. However, there is an increasing understanding that the mechanisms are more complicated and that statin treatment, in particular when used as primary prevention, is of doubtful benefit.
It’s all right there in the medical data. We need to take that into consideration as we shift our perspective and learn how to support our health.
Cholesterol and Hormones
So, what if we talk about what cholesterol does for us hormonally? What effect do some of these cholesterol-lowering medications have on our hormones? Here’s another study that talks about Cholesterol: A Gatekeeper of Male Fertility?
Or, how about this? Higher testosterone levels are associated with increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in men with cardiovascular disease: results from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, Higher testosterone levels are associated with higher cholesterol levels, and vice versa.
According to this study, men on statins have reduced levels of testosterone: Welcoming low testosterone as a cardiovascular risk factor. This makes sense when you talk about physiology and biochemistry because statins inhibit one of our rate-limiting enzymes. It’s called HMA-COA reductase. This enzyme lowers cholesterol, which deprives the cells of precursors needed to make hormones like testosterone.
This article from Frontiers in Endocrinology (2018) says that male fertility disorders represent serious health problems in about 30-40% of cases, but the causes remain unknown.
Cholesterol homeostasis is crucial for testicular function. So many aspects of male hormone health are affected by how much cholesterol our body creates. Altering that can affect reproductive function and can lead to male infertility.
When we talk about lowering cholesterol (leading to low testosterone), there’s research now showing that low testosterone increases cardiovascular risk. Now, we have to alter our whole thought process about lowering cholesterol with statins to decrease cardiovascular risk. Lowering cholesterol, it turns out, lowers testosterone, which then increases cardiovascular risk. It’s kind of backwards.
There must be a better way. We need to support the body rather than continue to manipulate it.
Dr. Sam then shares a slide showing the steroid hormone pathway. We’ve been constantly programmed to think cholesterol is the “bad guy.” That’s not true. Cholesterol is the main precursor that gives rise to everything else. Cholesterol is needed for all the steroid hormones, including testosterone, estrogens, cortisol, and DHEA.
Low Cholesterol Lowers the Immune Response
Cholesterol is also important building block for the immune response. Research shows Low serum LDL cholesterol levels and the risk of fever, sepsis, and malignancy. Lower cholesterol makes us more susceptible to infection, cancer, and comorbidities!
That raises a question… What is the price you’re willing to pay when you lower your cholesterol levels? Low cholesterol is associated with low immune function: Hypocholesterolemia is associated with immune dysfunction in early human immunodeficiency virus-1 infection.
Lowering your blood cholesterol over time is going to cause bigger problems down the road.
What’s a normal level of cholesterol? If we know what normal is, we can have a solution that works on both sides – normalizing cholesterol and normalizing the immune response. That way, we’re not setting ourselves up for increased infections (from a lowered immune response) or increased risk of autoimmune disease (from a heightened immune response).
What can we do to positively affect both sides of the equation? The Wellness Way approach. That way you don’t have to pick a side; you can support all your body systems. It’s the Swiss Watch approach: every system is connected. If we look at it from that perspective, we can work to restore function going forward.
High Cholesterol Protects Against Disease
Another study looked specifically at HIV patients –patients who are already immune compromised. Let’s look again at this study: Hypocholesterolemia is associated with immune dysfunction in early human immunodeficiency virus-1 infection. So, low cholesterol is associated with immune dysfunction.
The immune system can’t do its job when our blood cholesterol levels are too low. Higher cholesterol protects against infection.
Another study: High cholesterol may protect against infections and atherosclerosis. If we can understand what the body is doing, we can embrace cholesterol while defending against heart disease and lowering our risk of viruses and other infections. You have to constantly ask: Are you trying to force physiology, or are you trying to support physiology? To restore normal, we have to know what normal is.
Again, going back to this study on high cholesterol and infections. High cholesterol can protect against infections and heart disease. So, how does cholesterol play a role in our immune response?
A Little Bit on Immune Function
The immune response is made up of the innate response and the adaptive response. The innate response happens naturally – it’s what we’re born with. It includes the epithelial cells of our gut, skin, sinuses, mucosal membranes… all these things are designed to protect us. An example of this innate response is Type 1 interferon, which is created from cholesterol.
Cholesterol in the body is specifically designed to limit damage from something foreign, like bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens. Cholesterol is contained within a phospholipid bilayer that is structured to protect us from the outside world. It works as a gatekeeper to determine what comes in and what comes out.
Let’s say something manages to get past that barrier. What happens next? Your body is smart – It doesn’t make mistakes. There are lipid rafts that are made of cholesterol and act as gatekeepers:
Lipid rafts, solid regions of the plasma membrane enriched in cholesterol and glycosphingolipids, are essential parts of a cell. Functionally, lipid rafts present a platform that facilitates interaction of cells with the outside world.
Lipid rafts are made of cholesterol to allow things in and allow things out. If pathogens get in, what occurs next? If a virus bypasses our barrier defense and gets into the body, type 1 interferon is released in response. It sends out an alarm or distress signal to tell other cells we’re under attack.
That will start to shut down the lipid rafts and make sure the gates are on lockdown: The interferon-inducible protein viperin inhibits influenza virus release by perturbing lipid rafts. Your body will do this automatically as part of the innate immune response, based on the communication between lipid rafts and type 1 interferon. It’s all part of the innate response.
How do you know whether your innate immune response is as robust as possible? Get tested. Get an immune panel done through your Wellness Way doc.
We Need LDL Cholesterol
The immune system can’t do its job when our blood cholesterol levels are too low. Higher cholesterol (including LDL) protects against infection. More studies:
(the body needs cholesterol for overall immune function)
When we talk about statins or other medications that can lower our overall LDL levels, they end up causing more serious complications and make us more susceptible to a suppressed immune response.
That applies to what has gone on over the last couple of years. The British Medical Journal published a study looking at COVID-19 and its response in primary care. What they found what that “Cholesterol-lowering treatment may be a major cause of serious Covid-19 infections.”
Most researchers consider the association between low cholesterol and infection as reverse causality, meaning that it is the microorganisms or the inflammation which lower cholesterol. However, there is much evidence that the explanation is that low cholesterol predisposes to infection because, as I have mentioned in a previous comment (1), there is solid evidence that LDL partakes in the immune system by adhering to and inactivating almost all kinds of microorganisms and their toxic products (2). In accordance is a study of hospitalized patients with various types of infectious diseases, where those with the lowest LDL-C measured previously had the largest risk of developing sepsis and where the risk was highest among those on statin treatment (3).
Again: “those with the lowest LDL-C measured previously had the largest risk of developing sepsis and where the risk was highest among those on statin treatment.”
If you have low cholesterol levels, you need to get tested. You need to find out why you have low cholesterol to begin with. It plays a role in your response to infections, whether that’s COVID-19, rhinoviruses, staph infections, or any other infections.
Cholesterol isn’t the bad guy —it’s essential! If your body makes up to 90% of it, how can it be bad? The body doesn’t make mistakes! It’s crucial that we see it from this perspective.
Going Forward: Changing Perspective About Cholesterol
Going forward, we need to make some changes in our perspective:
- Understand the body is not making mistakes
- What is the body trying to tell us?
- Get tested –Be proactive rather than reactive
The immune response is just one component of how your body functions. That said, we can get in its way. How can you know whether your immune response and cholesterol levels are healthy? Test your body, whether that’s an immune panel, lipid panel, a complete metabolic panel, CBC… It’s important to know what the picture looks like.
Go ask your Wellness Way doctor. If you don’t have one, find one. The Wellness Way is a network of health restoration clinics that think and act differently to solve the health challenges others can’t.
Product Knowledge: Rehmannia
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Dr. Mitch then introduces the herb Rehmannia. So, what does it do, what do we use it for, and how do we share it with our families? Here are a few benefits
- Autoimmune issues – helps suppress the autoantibody response
- Supports adrenal gland and liver health
- Promotes a healthy response to stress
- Elongates stem cells
- Supports normal bowel function
- Encourage normal fluid elimination
Rehmannia actually lengthens the stem cells in your bone marrow. Every white blood cell you have is produced in your bone marrow. Rehmannia extends the life of those white blood cells. In fact, some would say it has antiaging properties. The longer a cell lives, the less replication you have to go through, and the less oxidative stress you will have.
Read more about that in this study: Rehmannia glutinosa exhibits anti-aging effect through maintaining the quiescence and decreasing the senescence of hematopoietic stem cells. Is it really antiaging? Not exactly, but it gives your body what it needs to function appropriately.
Before taking Rehmannia, it’s important to test your body to see whether you have autoantibodies, as in autoimmune thyroid disease, lupus, or another autoimmune state. You would also want to test adrenal function and DUTCH test. Then you can find out whether this herb is necessary for your body or not. We don’t guess; we test!
Contact a Wellness Way clinic for testing or any questions you may have about Rehmannia or other herbs.
Hot Topics: Paralysis
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Dr. Mitch and Nicole then share their recent episode of Now You Know that airs every Thursday at 8 pm central on The Wellness Way–Green Bay Facebook page. They discuss Justin Bieber’s recent announcement of Ramsey Hunt Syndrome diagnosis and facial paralysis.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome
According to the Mayo Clinic, Ramsay Hunt syndrome (herpes zoster oticus) occurs when a shingles outbreak affects the facial nerve near one of your ears. In addition to the painful shingles rash, Ramsay Hunt syndrome can cause facial paralysis and hearing loss in the affected ear.
Dr. Mitch and Nicole Discuss
Dr. Mitch and Nicole then discuss the challenges of helping people and communicating with them to help them heal. Dr. Mitch wanted to attend a Justin Bieber show in Milwaukee, but it was cancelled after this diagnosis. Dr. Mitch and Nicole then talk about some of the causes and ways to support the body in resolving this little-known condition.
Any type of paralysis is serious. When it comes to the causes, many people speculate whether this was a COVID-19 vaccine injury. Nicole is not taking a stand on whether it is or isn’t. The fact is that Ramsey Hunt syndrome is a viral attack of the facial nerve. It’s the same virus that causes chicken pox and shingles. It’s a reoccurring viral attack.
What causes these viral attacks? A better question is “what is suppressing the immune system?” What’s causing damage? What’s causing inflammation? What’s causing stress on your body that’s not allowing your immune system to respond the way it should?
Some potential causes may include:
- The COVID-19 vaccine
- Food allergies
- Stress (physical, mental)
Many different things can affect the nervous system and immune system, weakening the immune response. That’s why chiropractic makes such a difference – because they care for the nervous system.
How Would Dr. Mitch Help Justin Bieber if He Came in to TWW?
Dr. Mitch and Nicole then speculate: If Justin Bieber came in today, and he had just seen Dr. Mitch on Now You Know and thought he could help… what would that look like?
The facial nerve is one of the cranial nerves. It originates at the base of the brain stem, so structurally, Dr. Mitch would see if there’s a subluxation that needs to be opened, or if there was an adhesion of some kind –something that’s interfering the with nervous system. That’s the trauma aspect.
The Three T’s –leading causes of inflammation—are Trauma, Toxins, and Thoughts. All these things contribute to inflammation and suppress the immune response. Next, Dr. Mitch would investigate potential toxins that are creating damage or affecting that nerve. That includes things like viruses (they love nerve tissue), other infections, and more.
The Immune Response Makes the Difference
Dr. Mitch and Nicole then talk more in detail about the immune response, including CD4 cells, B cells, and T cells, which can be measured on the immune panel. We’re exposed to infectious agents all the time, yet not everyone becomes ill. What’s the difference that makes some people get sick while others don’t? Their immune response.
It’s The Wellness Way doctors’ job to help guide people on their health journey. They help show you what’s unique to your health situation and what got you there in the first place. But you won’t know how good you can feel until you go through the process of testing for imbalances and restoring function.
Final Thoughts – Dr. Mitch on Glyphosate
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For the “Final Thoughts” section or “Last 10%,” Dr. Mitch mentions a CDC study on glyphosate that was recently discussed on the Joe Rogan show. In this study, just over 2,310 urine samples were collected from people aged 6 years old and older in 2013 and 2014. About a third of the samples came from children.
When they tested these samples, 80 percent of them were at or above the detection limit for glyphosate. What is glyphosate? It’s the chemical used in certain commercial weedkillers. This chemical is dangerous –It’s been linked to cancer. Eighty percent of these people had glyphosate in their bodies!
Glyphosate is water-soluble, so it’s very dangerous –it gets in your water supply. It gets in the groundwater. Most people have some level of glyphosate toxicity because we can’t get it out of the water cycle and we’re continuing to use more and more of it. We can’t eliminate it and we’re constantly being exposed to it.
What does it do? Glyphosate can cross over your blood-brain barrier, entering your brain. You don’t want that! It can create toxicity, oxidative stress, and inflammation in that brain tissue. That leads to a vicious cycle of brain inflammation.
Glyphosate also damages the gut microbiome by damaging those gut bacteria which produce important nutrients that the body needs. We actually get the majority of our nutrients from bacteria in the soil. When you use glyphosate on crops, you’re killing the bacteria in the topsoil. The bacteria are the delivery agents for nutrients into the soil.
When you get rid of the nutrients in the soil, the food grown in it is going to have fewer nutrients in it. Eating those foods then doesn’t give your body what it needs to function biochemically.
Now, if the glyphosate gets into your system, it’s also affecting your gut microbiome –the bacteria in your GI. Some of the nutrients produced by your gut bacteria are there to help the body eliminate toxins, including used up hormones.
If your elimination isn’t working well, due to a lack of the proper nutrients, the toxins continue to circulate through your system, increasing your risk of cancer.
This study is scary. Be careful in choosing products to use. What are those products doing long term? These things are slowly killing us. Do your research and question everything –even us!
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