Infections: The Impact They Have On Your Brain Health with Dr. Mark Filidei

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Believe it or not, various infections in the body can have a major effect on how your brain functions. In this episode, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are again joined by Dr. Mark Filidei to discuss the brain burglars that steal your health. This episode focuses on the different types of infections that can sneak in undetected and cause damage to your brain.

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years, using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalized treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're having a discussion about the things that steal your brain or assault your brain. I'm here with Dr. Mark Filidei, Director of Integrative Medicine for Amen Clinics. Mark does so many things. He helps work up toxic brains, helps make them healthy, balances hormones in the BRIGHT MINDS approach that I talked about in Memory Rescue and I talk about again in the end of Mental Illness. I tell you, "Keep your brain healthy or rescue it if it's headed to the dark place." You have to prevent or treat the 11 major risk factors that steal your mind, and we're really talking about two of them. We're talking about the "T" in BRIGHT MINDS, which is toxins, and the "I," which is immunity and infections. So, I guess, candida would fit sort of in both places that-
Dr Mark Filidei: Yes, right.
Dr Daniel Amen: -[inaudible 00:01:46] infection. It is an infection, and it produces toxins. We were just talking. I have to get this in my head that they use yeast to make beer and wine, and if you have too much yeast in your gut ... I mean, all of us have a little bit, but if it begins to overgrow because you're eating too much sugar-
Dr Mark Filidei: Too much sugar. Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: -that sugar feeds yeast, that you're actually, in your own body, creating something similar to alcohol and that you get loopy without the benefits-
Dr Mark Filidei: Not the fun part.
Dr Daniel Amen: Without the fun part. That you just sort of feel a bit drunk, anxious, brain fog, insomnia.
Dr Mark Filidei: Right. Yes, and also the yeast, almost like the toxo-plasma, the other brain-snatcher, yeast want you to eat sugar. So, you can get cravings because you have yeast. It's almost taking over your brain, saying, "Feed me." So, when you knock the yeast down, the sugar cravings can go down. That's why you want to starve it out, but another kind of scary thing that comes up with this is they've found fungal DNA in the brain of Alzheimer's patients and not in controls. It was 19 out of 19 had fungal DNA.
Dr Daniel Amen: Wow.
Dr Mark Filidei: So could be even more of an issue with memory. I still think the fungi issue is a lot more of a problem than we think it is for many conditions.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, to diagnose it ... So, you can actually get antibodies against candida.
Dr Mark Filidei: Yeah, easy blood tests, right.
Dr Daniel Amen: Are there other ways people can diagnose it besides blood tests? How abut stool tests?
Dr Mark Filidei: Stool test and urine test. So, there's an organic acid urine test that looks for fungal metabolites. A stool will actually find the yeast and type it and tell you what to do to treat it, very common. Very common.
Dr Daniel Amen: Oh, my goodness. All right. So, let's switch gears just a little bit and talk about infections, and I'm like, "I'm a psychiatrist. Why do I care?"
Dr Mark Filidei: Because it causes all sorts of problems.
Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah, yeah. Right, right.
Dr Mark Filidei: That's why you should care, and one of my very favorite cases ... and I've probably talked about [inaudible 00:04:10] a lot. She's 16, beautiful, smart, normal, goes to Yosemite, and on vacation, when she's 16 and her family's surrounded by six deer. And they think it's a magical moment, but 10 days later, she's hallucinating. She's aggressive. She's psychotic. They hospitalize her at Kaiser, and what does a psychiatrist do? You have these symptoms, that equals your diagnosis of schizophrenia, and they start her on anti-psychotic medications, Abilify didn't work.
Dr Daniel Amen: Classic right.
Dr Mark Filidei: Risperdal didn't work. [inaudible 00:04:52] didn't work, and then, six months later, she's a shell of herself. And her mom heard about our work, brought her to our clinic in northern California, and her brain was on fire. And found out she had Lyme disease from a deer tick, and on an antibiotic-
Dr Daniel Amen: In California.
Dr Mark Filidei: In California, which is actually very common. And on an antibiotic, she got her life back and graduated from Pepperdine, recently got a Master's degree a university in England. She's employed at a high-level job, and every day-
Dr Daniel Amen: Who knows where they would've been if they weren't caught, right, if you hadn't have found that?
Dr Mark Filidei: Every day about one o'clock, her mother text me, "How can I pray for you today?" And I actually got to meet her about two years ago when I did an event in northern California, and both of us just cried like babies.
Dr Daniel Amen: Lyme has been ... you've really thought a lot of about that and treated a lot of people with this. Talk about ... How did you get interested in this?
Dr Mark Filidei: So, in California, we don't really hear much about it, but certainly, it's here. East Coast, it's a lot more common, so it was actually my first patient at the Amen Clinic was when I really started learning more about Lyme in California. There was a kid who was here getting drug recovery, sober living house, and he was 21. And he had done every drug that you could imagine every way. He was injecting meth into his carotid arteries at an early age, so his whole high school and college days were gone. It all started because he started feeling lousy. He was 14, living in Santa Barbara, and no Lyme there. Feeling lousy, couldn't think right, not doing well in school, complaining that he felt kind of achy. Doctor couldn't find anything, not surprising, because they didn't look, and he just started doing drugs to feel better.
He was starting to do something just to get rid of the pain and get his brain working, so that led down the typical road and wrong people, drug culture. And he became an addict, and his mother was actually the one that looked up the symptoms. And she said, "Oh, my God. That's my son. He's got everything on the list for Lyme." And that's when the light bulb when off to me, that I probably had missed hundreds of cases in the past in my own practice, just wasn't on my radar. So, now it is, and ever since, it's been all over the place. So, it's in every state, some certainly more than others, but it's in California. And the most common one here is called borrelia miyamotoi, which ... it doesn't show up on a standard Lyme test, so you have to do a little more digging.
And you don't have to have a tick bite, right? So, this can come from any biting insect. Classically, it's a tick. Classic, you see a tick, you pull it off, you get the target lesion. You feel lousy, but it's a lot more subtle than that in many cases, so you can't go by that.
Dr Daniel Amen: So what are the most common symptoms of Lyme? And it's really been what we've been talking about. It's brain fog. It's anxiety, but also pain and trouble breathing.
Dr Mark Filidei: Classic Lyme ... Lyme, Connecticut was the town in Connecticut. Lyme is pain and fatigue initially. However, there's different species. The one in Europe, [inaudible 00:08:17], more psychiatric issues, more neurologic, psychiatric, so there's 30 different species. They all have a different little profile, so classically pain and fatigue. But it can really be anything. It's called The Great Imitator for a reason. It can imitate almost anything. In the DSM, almost anything in there could be from Lyme.
Dr Daniel Amen: On the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, psychiatrists make diagnoses, and there's not a mention of Lyme. Although they always say, "Rule out medical causes," which-
Dr Mark Filidei: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: But if it's not on your radar ... and many infection disease doctors, they don't treat Lyme.
Dr Mark Filidei: They don't. They don't believe it exists. It's outside of the classic presentation, so if you do not have a tick bite, you don't have the rash, you don't have Lyme. Except neuro Lyme is in all standard medical [inaudible 00:09:13]. So, neuro-borreliosis is when it affects your brain, and it can be in your brain, literally. And that's just one of the many bugs that we look for, so Epstein Barr virus, notorious for causing chronic fatigue syndrome. And it goes on.
Dr Daniel Amen: But a lot of people have it. [inaudible 00:09:34].
Dr Mark Filidei: Almost everyone has had it. That's right.
Dr Daniel Amen: But I was reading, in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, that if you've been infected, Epstein Barr, herpes, CMV, that, when you go under stress, they can reactivate.
Dr Mark Filidei: Exactly.
Dr Daniel Amen: Can you talk about that a little bit?
Dr Mark Filidei: Yeah. So, these viruses, Epstein Barr, HH, herpes virus six, CMV, these are all in the herpes virus family. Now, people always freak out, and I have to say, "Okay, that's not that herpes. It's the same family." So, it's a whole family of viruses, like Epstein Barr. They're permanent.
Dr Daniel Amen: 30% of people have that herpes, right?
Dr Mark Filidei: Yeah. That's pretty common, too.
Dr Daniel Amen: [inaudible 00:10:16] really common.
Dr Mark Filidei: Right. So, that can get a little sticky.
Dr Daniel Amen: Or cold sores is Herpes-1.
Dr Mark Filidei: Correct.
Dr Daniel Amen: And there's actually a connection between cold sores and Alzheimer's disease.
Dr Mark Filidei: Correct.
Dr Daniel Amen: And you wonder. So, a lot of us have had a lot of these infections. It's, "How do you keep them dormant?"
Dr Mark Filidei: How do you keep them locked away? That's the key. So, they're there. They're always gonna be there. They can always come out of the woodwork. To my patients, I'll say, "It's locked away. Your immune system's handling it. It's locked away in a cage." What can unlock that stress? A car accident. A divorce. Another infection. Immune system just kind of just goes to sleep a little bit. The guards aren't there. The virus starts attacking again.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, keeping your immune system is-
Dr Mark Filidei: Critical.
Dr Daniel Amen: -so important. When we come back, we're gonna talk about toxoplasmosis 'cause I just find that so stinking interesting, and we've had a number of cases recently. And let's spend some time and talk about how to keep your immune system healthy so you can lock these infections up for good. Stay with us.
Tana Amen: If you're enjoying the Brain Warrior's Way podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode, and while you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.
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