In the fourth and final episode in a series with Brain Maker author Dr. David Perlmutter, Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Perlmutter discuss an incredibly effective treatment for those who suffer from gut/brain related illnesses. But beware, this procedure is not for the squeamish!
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Doctor Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.
Dr. David Perlmutter: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain spect imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information visit AmenClinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality [inaudible 00:00:40] products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information visit brainMDhealth.com. Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, welcome back. I'm here with Doctor David Perlmutter, bestselling author, neurologist, teacher, friend. You know, I'm so pleased to spend time with you always, 'cause I learn so much. You're like the perfect guest on the Brain Warrior's Way because we believe that you're in a war, and you need to be armed, prepared and aware to really win the fight of your life. And it's not a small war. I read a book called Hooked, written by a Silicon Valley person on how they create addictive gadgets, and I'm like, "Oh my goodness." You're in a war. Let's spend just a little bit of time and talk about Brain Maker, one of your books I dearly love, on the gut brain connection. But also let's spend a couple of minutes on the war, and the new book you're working on, Brain Wash.
Dr. David Perlmutter: Let me first start by saying the Brain Maker was a book that really focused a lot on the gut, and how it manifests as either brain degeneration or brain health. And I have to say, when that book came out, it was extremely disruptive. I mean we talked about sure, about food, about probiotics and prebiotic fiber, about the threats to your gut bacteria with respect to medications, for example antibiotics, non-antiinflammatory drugs, acid blocking drugs, but we even went further and discussed this emerging technology called fecal microbial transplant.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Oh, I remember that.
Dr. David Perlmutter: Where fecal material from healthy individuals was transplanted into individuals' colons who had a whatever the issue may be, but it was an issue that we understood and understand is initially related to abnormalities of the gut bacterias. For example, we know that there's an overgrowth of a type of bacterium called Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, that claims the life of 30-40,000 Americans a year, today. And the treatment for C. diff over the years has been antibiotics, about 28% effective. Fecal transplant is more than 95% effective in treating C. diff. So it worked for that. Now 500 hospitals in America are doing fecal transplants for C. diff but just yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association was a review article, and editorial written about an article appearing in the same journal, using fecal microbial transplant, transplanting fecal material into people with Crohn's disease, with really dramatic results. Crohn's being an autoimmune condition. So we begin to think about the idea of using this radical change of the gut bacteria for immune related things and inflammatory related issues.
Several years ago, as I wrote about in Brain Maker, I had a child come to see me with autism, and in addition mother states, "Oh, and his digesting is terrible. He doesn't have a bowel movement for weeks at a time, and when he does it smells so bad. We noticed that from the moment that he actually was born." And as you and I know, that's not unusual, that's what you would expect to hear. And for years, everyone has known that there's this incredible relationship between abnormalities of gut function and autism. But it was sort of like, they have this and they have that. The gastroenterologist will deal with the gut, and I will deal with the autism as best I can.
Well no, there's a powerful signal there. Now that we understand the powerful role of the gut bacteria in brain health and function, maybe there's a clue. And I said this to this child's mother, and I said, "You know, why don't we think about doing the fecal transplant on your child." And she of course asked, "What in the heck is that?" And I explained it, and she said, "Dr. Perlmutter, if you think that might help and it's not gonna hurt, I'm all in." We found a 12-year old healthy girl who was delighted to help out. And you know, it's really strange, we're gonna have to get your poop, and we're gonna put it into this child's colon, and she said, "Whatever I can do to help."
So we did this, and I was getting ready to go on stage in Germany, when a few minutes before I got an urgent call from this kid's mother who sent me video of him doing a book report on Benjamin Franklin in front of his class. And I will never forget that moment. I mean this kid wouldn't speak, wouldn't make eye contact, in regular school telling me some things about Benjamin Franklin that I didn't even know. And it was really quite remarkable. And when I published that in Brain Maker, oh my Gosh did people criticize. And you know, I fully follow the doctor note, primum non nocere, above all do no harm. And looked at the risk benefit ideology as well, and nice to know that two to three years ago, University of Arizona did a larger study, 20 children open label, and did fecal transplants and demonstrated across the board, not only improvements in their GI function but in cognitive parameters as well. Published and work done Doctor Alessio Fasano at Harvard was part of that research.
That's the kind of stuff we were exploring, and I think that we are still powerfully involved in laying the groundwork and understanding the role that our gut bacteria are playing in our overall health. After all, those one hundred trillion organisms depend on you and me being healthy, otherwise they perish. And I've often said that women who are pregnant, now we say you have to be careful, you're eating for two. Well, everyone on the planet is eating for a hundred trillion. They're gonna eat what you eat.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right.
Dr. David Perlmutter: When we threaten them with artificial sweeteners, we increase our risk for metabolic issues. When we threaten them with acid blocking drugs, the Journal Stroke indicates that we increase our risk for developing Alzheimer's disease and stroke. So we've better nurture those guys. And we do so by eating a diet that emulates the diet of our ancestors, a diet that's very rich in prebiotic fiber and that doesn't threaten them with high levels of processed carbohydrates, sugars, artificial sweeteners and flavors and colors and you name it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Do you think fecal transplantation is going to become a treatment for autism?
Dr. David Perlmutter: I think that what we anticipate seeing is a production of, an understanding of why fecal transplant has been helpful, and I hate to say it but kind of extracting out the active ingredient. What we now understand is that you can get some benefit from fecal transplantation in other realms, not with autism, only minimum amount of research from actually transplanting just the coverings over the bacteria that have the antigens on, the proteins on them. So you don't necessarily have to have viable bacteria. So think where we're going is to a place where we finally understand what is it, what is contained? Are they viable bacteria? Which bacteria do what? And ultimately refining that to an extent that it wouldn't even need to be transplanted into the colon because we now know you can cure C. diff not with just fecal transplant but using oral capsules of fecal material as well. So I think ultimately where we're getting is the coming together of the notion of probiotics with the data that fecal transplantation is developing to ultimately cure a disease or have a dramatic impact on a disease related to inflammation and altered neurochemistry, things like autism and depression and anxiety, ADHD, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease. That's the future.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Wow. So many good things. Before we stop, talk about-
Dr. David Perlmutter: I can't believe we're getting ready to stop. Too much. We just started.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I know, it's just so much fun. Brain Wash. My goodness. So much- I have two nieces that I adopted, that I love like their mine, and one of them goes to middle school where a day a week McDonald's delivers lunch. And another day a week, Pizza Hut delivers lunch. And it just highlights the war that if I was an evil ruler and I wanted to create mental illness in our society, that's clearly one of the things I would do, is give them this low-quality food that really upsets their microbiome. When you're thinking about Brain Wash, what is it that you're hoping to deliver in the book and that people will take away from it when it's out next year?
Dr. David Perlmutter: I think the biggest thing that we can do and why we've written the book is to call things out. So people can recognize where they are being hijacked. That food is addictive and is manipulated as we've seen with respect to its sugar content, salt content, fat content, to make it more not just palatable, but more addictive, and that our brains are being hijacked in terms of what we see in media, what we see on social media, what we see when we're online, making us think that we're gonna achieve certain goals if we carry out a certain action, and that it is more. That these are not things that just happen, these are volitional techniques of marketing to make us behave in a certain way and to lock us in to that behavior more importantly, getting back to what we talked about earlier with respect to keeping us at a primitive brain function level, functioning from the amygdala where we are impulsive, fearful, self-centered, and keeping us away from the notion of connectivity.
So what we describe in Brain Wash is disconnection syndrome, that we are disconnecting and have become disconnected at multiple levels. We've become disconnected from the signaling from our DNA, from the life supportive signaling and metabolic products that our gut bacteria want to provide us. We've become disconnected from the prefrontal cortex, allowing us to be those highly developed humans that we could be, caring for each other, caring for the planet. We're disconnected from our neighbors, from our communities, certainly from other nations, and ultimately disconnected from nature, from the planet itself. And the end game for Brain Wash is reconnection, as you would imagine. And we aim to provide those tools to recognize what's leading to disconnection, and to hopefully, I split the infinitive, I'm sorry to hopefully, allow people the tools to reconnect.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I love that. It's gonna be a huge hit. I'm so grateful to you, grateful to your friendship. I know Tana would echo the same thing, to your teaching. Continue to follow you. How can our listeners connect with you? How can they learn more about, I mean yes, you have your books, Grain Brain, Brain Maker-
Dr. David Perlmutter: Best way would be DrPerlmutter.com. D-R-Perlmutter.com. I send out a newspaper email every week with a newsletter, and just as you see on site, we have thousands, tens of thousands of full pdf research articles, data bank, that we've used in the books we've written, that is fully searchable by topics. If you're interested in autism or Parkinson's, you dial it in and all the studies come up. So you can learn where the information that we talk about comes from.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Great. Well thank you my friend. Such a joy to be with you again. Thank you for listening to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. Go to iTunes and leave a review, and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to get a free signed copy of the Brain Warrior's Way and the Brain Warrior's Way Cookbook we give away every month.