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NDE or near-death experience, for some people, is an uncomfortable topic to listen to or understand. Some testify to it being able to experience it first hand themselves, and our guests for today, Dr. Eben Alexander and Karen Newell, will be sharing some more insights about NDE, as well as with The Mysteries of Consciousness, Death, Eternal Nature of the Soul, Afterlife, Heaven itself on their personal perspective.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. If you listen to the last episode with Dr. William Davis, Episode 476, we talked about a very specific strain of really healthy bacteria for the gut, Lactobacillus reuteri, and its many benefits. He shares how to culture it that you can get all the benefits, including a natural antidepressant, and helps even people with lifelong insomnia. He had shared that his sleep problems are lifelong sleep problems recovered after starting to eat the Lactobacillus reuteri. A yogurt that takes 36 hours at 100 degrees to culture and he uses cow dairy. Because my whole family is allergic to cow dairy, and we’re dairy-free. I’ve been experimenting with the different methods of using it. I made the most delicious batch and best batch yet. I was so excited that I wrote out the recipe and put it in the Facebook group. The Learn True Health Facebook group has the non-dairy recipe for making the Lactobacillus reuteri, which an antidepressant. It helps with sleep, increases joy, and stabilizes mood. It helped me tremendously, and I suffered from post-traumatic stress attacks in the last few months. Since eating the lactobacillus reuteri, I learned from Dr. William Davis and it all has in his book. You can listen to the last episode to get that information.
I want to tell you if you’re dairy-free and you’ve wanted to try his lactobacillus reuteri recipe, I’ve found a way to make it so delicious. I’ve tried with soy and it tastes really bad but it worked. I got all the benefits from it, but it didn’t taste great. Then I made it with coconut, which also did not taste great. I didn’t even want to eat it, but it still worked.
Then I tried to make water kefir which was unsuccessful, and I’m going to look into what I can do to see and I still want to try to make a drink out of it. Then I made it with organic raw cashews, and it was successful. So I laid out everything I did and put it in the Facebook group. Come and join the Learn True Health Facebook group. If you can’t find the post, just use the search function in the Facebook group and search for yogurt or the word cashew or Lactobacillus reuteri and you’ll find it there.
I hope you enjoyed today’s interview. It’s a bit different. Sometimes we do episodes that aren’t about physical health. We’ve done episodes about addiction, mental health, and emotional health and occasionally, we also cover spiritual health. I think it’s really important to have this attitude of no stone left unturned. Keep our minds so open that our brains would fall out. That was one of my favorite sayings. I learned about 14 years ago from a man I was listening to his podcast. He would cover topics so far out there, even for me. It helped me realize when we expand our minds and get into the learning state.
Being open to what we don’t know that doesn’t invalidate our belief system, like I’m learning different spiritual beliefs, wouldn’t make me less Christian. I still have very strong rooted beliefs in my spiritual practices, but understanding other people and other systems help me better understand the world. If we can gain a deeper foothold into our health by taking in new information and seeing the world through other eyes, that is a positive thing.
In today’s interview, we have a neurosurgeon who has documented a near-death experience. His brain was so sick that it could not have been performing the hallucinations or the visions that he was having. He had a one in a billion chance of surviving. He was so incredibly sick. All the doctors were amazed when he came back to life when his 10-year-old son was standing there begging him to come back to life and then he did. After seven days of being in a coma, his brain was absolutely beyond damaged. So the doctors were saying– well, okay, pull the plug, let’s let him go, that would be a humane thing to do.
He shares his story and his adventures since where he has been studying near-death experiences and sees that there are millions, in fact, documented near-death experiences that all have very similar qualities. So we can take that and look at our own lives and how we’re living our own life now. I think this is a positive message for humanity.
In today’s interview, if you don’t have any spiritual beliefs, it’s going to be beautiful. It won’t challenge anything, but for those who are strongly rooted in certain religions, it might not align with your religion, and that’s okay, too. This episode isn’t meant to change anyone’s beliefs about their religion. It complements because what it shows us, God is love. The infinite source of creation is there with a love that has been the documented experience of millions of people who’ve had near-death experiences, which is fascinating. We explore this topic. We also explore tools that can help people who are in anxiety and depression, feeling disconnected, and feel they’ve lost their purpose.
Please share this episode with those who would benefit from being uplifted. At the beginning of the interview, I shared that yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter’s birth and death. Last year, I faced that question– where’s my daughter? What happens to us when we pass and a close family member of mine is in their final moments of life right now? We’ve been facing hospice care for the last few months, helping with that. My husband’s been doing hospice care. Looking at our family and our life from that lens, this time on Earth is short. I hope that everyone listening comes away after listening to this interview feeling uplifted and feeling inspired to live the best life. No matter how long or short it is, leave a positive impact on the world, know that you’re loved, and focus on gratitude.
[00:07:45] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 477. I am so excited for today’s guests. We have on the show two amazing people, Dr. Eben Alexander and Karen Newell. This is perfect in divine timing. As far as I’m concerned, this is the feedback I got after doing this podcast for six years now. The feedback I get from my listeners is that I’ve been searching for this information. I just looked in the last week and then boom– your podcast came up or I was having this problem with my child and the next episode that came out was the answer to my problem. Many times there’s this divine timing, although I typically have about ten or so interviews in the hopper to edit and publish. I feel guided when and what to publish. It’s like I’m told– okay, now’s the time for this topic that needs to be learned. Everyone needs to hear about this next topic. Its divine timing can be for the listeners, but sometimes the divine timing is for me too, because interviews will happen in my life right as I need them. I can’t tell you how many times this happened to me and where it was the problem I was going through. It just so happened that the interview was scheduled for the right time.
A very close family member of mine is in the final hours of their life right now. He’s been in hospice care for months and to have this interview be today even though we had to reschedule it, who was rescheduled to be at this moment. Where we’re all questioning what happens after we die? When we’re stuck with this realization, we’re not going to be here forever, which is motivating to live your life to the fullest now and do the best work we can while we’re here in this earthly realm. So what happens after we die? Do we just decompose? Is that it, or is there more?
What I love, our guests today have so much to share in this realm. The other piece of the divine timing for me in this particular interview was yesterday. I celebrated with my family the birth and death of my daughter. It was our first anniversary. This whole last year, I’ve been faced with grief and death and thinking about where we go when we die. Where’s my daughter? She’s not here. Where is she? Is there an afterlife? I’ve always had the knowledge of believing I was raised and I was Christian. I’ve had a very strong feeling that I’ve felt the presence of God with me. But not everyone hasn’t had that experience in their life.
To come from a scientific standpoint and in scientific observation, it’s very helpful to get a different perspective. I think today it’s going to be really exciting for everyone and this is something that we all have two things in common. We’re all born and we’re all going to die. That’s like if we can just sit around and go. It doesn’t matter where we were born, who we were born to. We all have these two things in common. There are a few more things in common like we all need to breathe and drink water. We start to see that we have a lot of common ground, but the fact is, we’re all faced with this sense of our own mortality and questions about what happens to the afterlife.
Welcome to the show, guys. I’m really excited to have you here today.
[00:11:45] Dr. Eben Alexander: Ashley, thank you so much for having us on. It’s great to be here.
[00:11:49] Karen Newell: Yes. I’m looking forward to this conversation.
[00:11:51] Ashley James: Absolutely. Dr. Alexander, your first book, I believe, was Proof of Heaven, then you wrote the Map of Heaven and Living in a Mindful Universe, of course with Karen. Could you both share what happened and what led you to this point you were authoring these books? I know there are some pretty big stories you have to share.
[00:12:23] Dr. Eben Alexander: Well, of course, it all started with the experience I had back in November of 2008. At that time, I was a 54-year-old neurosurgeon. I’d spent 15 years teaching neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School thought I had some idea of how the brain, mind, and consciousness work. Then I had this extraordinary experience. It was one that absolutely should have killed me, severe gram-negative bacteria, meningoencephalitis. So I go into all the medical details in the book, Proof of Heaven.
Luckily, there’s also a medical case report published ten years after my coma by three doctors not involved in my care. Who went a lot further than I did in assessing my medical records, analyzing them, and making two major conclusions. One is that my brain was documented to be way too ill to have supported any dream or hallucination that was not possible given the extent of my illness. The other thing was that I spent a week in a coma due to this severe and very rare and adults of bacterium, Indigo encephalitis.
My doctors had estimated early in the week, and I had a 10% chance of survival. By the end of the week, only a 2% chance with no chance of recovery. That’s why on that Sunday morning, day seven of coma, they recommended just stopping the antibiotics and letting nature take its course. But, of course, that’s when I came back to this world. But the point that the case report doctors were making is that my recovery was miraculous. The medical peer reviewers at the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases published it. The case report in September 2018 challenged the doctors who wrote it and said, how do you explain this? This case is absurd. This kind of patient doesn’t end up making a full recovery.
That’s when they said, well, because he had a near-death experience, he was gifted with this miraculous recovery. And the peer-reviewing medical scientists said, okay, that’s good enough for us, and they published it. The reason why the doctors who wrote the case report knew of other cases, for example, Anita Moorjani, who had advanced stage four lymphoma, a profound near-death experience, and then she came back from all that and cured cancer. Likewise, Mary C. Neal, an orthopedic surgeon, had an over 30-minute warm water drowning and then recovered from that completely. So anyway, that’s the main point for all of us because in Learning True Health, truly, the power of this kind of mind over matter healing here even goes far beyond the placebo effect is something available to all of us. And that’s one of the main reasons I’ve shared my story.
[00:15:07] Ashley James: That’s so beautiful. We now understand your background. Karen, where do you come into play with all this?
[00:15:16] Karen Newell: Well, I met Eben about three years after his coma and this is before any of his books had come out. We were at a workshop learning how to use sound to get into expanded states of consciousness and I heard that he had a near-death experience. I’ve met others who’d had near-death experiences. Just to start a conversation, since I didn’t know his story, I went right to the heart of the matter. I said, what was the big lesson you learned? What was the big thing you came back with? Because near-death experiencers always come back with some usually deep personal lesson.
He looked at me and said that the brain doesn’t create consciousness, and I was confused. I said, well, why would anyone think that it does. When we met, Eben came from this very materialist background where he thought it was birth to death and nothing more. So the physical world is all that exists, and everything else is just an illusion. I was coming from the opposite like you described when I was young. I just had this knowing many of us do, and we have this knowing that we’ve been here before. This isn’t just the beginning, and we may come back again. Certainly, this idea of a soul to me was very certain in my mind, and it wasn’t through any specific religious teachings.
Although, like you, I was raised Christian, it just came from my own kind of inner understanding. When Eben said the brain doesn’t create consciousness, I never thought the brain created consciousness. I thought that consciousness was what we are, or a soul consciousness, energy, spirit. That’s where we realized we were coming from opposite ends of the spectrum and Eben had just learned this profound lesson through his direct personal experience. That’s what intrigued him and I was taken aback when he said the most profound lesson he learned had to do with science. To him, this evidence could end the entire worldview belief system of reductive materialism. So I asked him, and I said, didn’t you experience love? What about the love? Wouldn’t that maybe be a more profound personal lesson? And he said, well, yes, I definitely experienced that love, but you can’t bring that back here.
It’s so intense and overwhelming on Earth. It’s not possible to experience that kind of love. So I looked at him again, a little confused. And I said, well, I’ve experienced that love without a near-death experience through spiritual, meditative experiences that I cultivated intentionally. I had experienced the love that many of these near-death experiencers talk about. That’s what intrigued Eben and he said–Oh, my gosh, and so you can tell just from that information, how many areas we had to discuss in order to find that common ground that we felt when we met?
[00:18:24] Ashley James: Can you share any details you remember from your near-death experience?
[00:18:30] Dr. Eben Alexander: Yes, there’s a tremendous amount to the story, but just too abbreviated for this discussion. It’s important to point out that one of the atypical features of my near-death experience was that I was amnesic and had no memory of Eben Alexander’s life. I had no words, no language, no knowledge of Earth as the universe, and it really was an empty slate. So I realized in the months after my coma that was absolutely necessary for me to learn some of the deeper lessons of the journey. It had to have some of those atypical features for me to avoid rejecting it out of hand is impossible to make sense of. Then the journey itself and this amnesic state started in what I call the earthworm’s eye view, a very primitive course, a kind of unresponsive realm. It was like being in dirty jello. So there came this spinning malady of light that opened like a portal and led up into this rich, ultra-real Gateway Valley, where I found myself next.
The Gateway Valley would be the kind of realm where all of us would reunite with our higher souls, with souls of departed loved ones, go through life reviews, and then make plans for the next incarnations. All that kind of thing. But in my world in this Gateway Valley, I was a speck of awareness on a butterfly wing. There were millions of other butterflies looping and spiraling and vast formations. There was an incredibly beautiful landscape down below us. That was a meadow surrounded by forests with waterfalls and the crystal blue pools, thousands of beings dancing. They were all dressed in very simple but very colorful garb.
All of the festivities I witnessed there, including all the rich plant life with no signs of death or decay, were being fueled. Because up above are these floating orbs of angelic choirs emanating chants and anthems and hymns that were just thundering through my awareness and completely enlivened that entire scene. That’s when I recognized that I wasn’t alone on the butterfly wing.
A beautiful spiritual guide was a young woman with sparkling blue eyes, high cheekbones, a broad forehead, and a broad smile. She never said a word. She didn’t have to. Her deep emotional truth came straight into my awareness, telepathically and emotionally. That message, I think, was the central message I was to bring back to this world through all fellow beings. You are deeply loved and cherished forever. You have nothing to fear. You’re deeply cared for. I can’t tell you how refreshing and reassuring that was at that time.
At that point, I was aware of all of the lower four-dimensional space-time, this material world collapsing down all of that spiritual realm of the Gateway Valley, including a different ordering of causality, then I call deep time. That’s what allows for things like life reviews, which are not just remembering events of your life but reliving them in a detailed fashion.
I witnessed all that stuff collapsing as the angelic choirs provided yet another musical portal to higher and higher levels. That portal led me up into what I call the core. The core was a complete resolution of all dualities and kinds of paradoxes of this existence, into that oneness with the Divine. An infinitely loving healing force that God forces that so many have encountered.
Over thousands of years, I would say that those encounters are the basis of all of our great religions, from prophets and mystics. I’ve realized that even though when I came back to this world, people who’ve read Proof of Heaven will realize, I called that deity alm. Because that was the sound, I heard the resonance in this infinity and eternity. That’s what I brought back and I realized that it’s a waste of time to say whether this is God or Allah, Brahman, Vishnu, Jehovah, Yahweh, Great Spirit, whatever you want to call it. So there’s some profound agreement about the love, compassion, mercy, and acceptance of that infinitely loving source of our very conscious awareness. That’s what I realized in this core realm.
I was told there would teach you many things, but you’re not here to stay. You’ll be going back. But, of course, all of those mini-lessons about reincarnation, the eternity of the soul about the fact that we’re sharing one mind. All of that was presented to me in this powerful passion. But then I would tumble back down to that earthworm eye view. That’s what I came to realize by remembering the musical notes. This melody would conjure up that light portal back into the Gateway Valley, and I always experienced that same beautiful guardian angel on the butterfly wing and different lessons that would happen in that Gateway Valley. But always, I would ascend back up through the angelic light portal into the core realms, that oneness with the Divine.
There finally came a time when they weren’t kidding, and I could no longer conjure up the musical notes of the melody to bring me that passageway up out of the earth worm’s eye view. To say I was sad at that point would be an understatement. I also realized a trust in the universe at that point. That’s also when I witnessed six faces that turned out to be what are called vertical time anchors. Five of them were physically present in the ICU room for the last 24 hours, and I was in a coma. One of them was Susan Ranches, a family friend I’d first met back in the early 1970s in freshman college English class. So many decades later, my family knew that she had done channeling work with coma patients, which helped some of them return to life. My family asked her to intervene. She channeled to me from 120 miles away. Her presence was clear to me as the physically present people in the ICU room.
I had first-hand experience of the absolute reality of channeling, which I would have denied to even existed before my coma. But, of course, I’ve grown a lot from this coma, and at any rate, it was at that point that the six-face that I saw were the ones that brought me back to this world. That was the face of a 10-year-old boy, who was my son Bond. Even though I said, my amnesia was still very active. I had no idea who this being was. But it was on day seven of coma.
Sunday morning, the doctors had just till the family conference, saying it was time to withdraw medical care and let me go. When Bond overheard that, even though they protected him from the worst news during the week, he ran down the hallway. I was lying there on my ventilator as I had been for the last seven days. He pulled up my eyelids, and I promise you, I did not see him with the eyes. I didn’t hear him with my ears. But he was pleading with me– Daddy, you’re going to be okay as if somehow that would make it. And now, all of a sudden, deep in the spiritual realms, I had assumed that this whole adventure could continue or cease. It didn’t matter. All of a sudden, I realized there was another soul involved. I had a tremendous responsibility to him. I did not understand his words, but I could sense that I knew I had to come back to this world from his pleading.
When I did, within the next few hours, opening my eyes, struggled, and fought the ventilator. That’s when the doctor pulled the breathing tube out. To their shock, I was coming back and saying words and showing some neurologic signs of progress. Although I still didn’t recognize loved ones at the bedside, my mother, sisters, and sons, those memories came back very rapidly. As did language over hours and the next few days, all my semantic knowledge of cosmology, physics, and neuroscience came back over about two months.
During that time, of course, I was wrestling back and forth with how to interpret my experience. When I first tried to tell my doctors about it, they said we couldn’t even understand how you’re coming back to us. But you can forget about it because a dying brain plays all kinds of tricks. My first statement to my son, Eben the fourth, who was majoring in neuroscience at the time and came home two days after I got out of the hospital, I told him it was way too real to be real. That’s how I interpreted the experience in the context my doctors tell me the dying brain plays all kinds of tricks. But over the next weeks and months, going back to the hospital, talking about doctors, going through medical records, neurologic exams, scans, all of that. I realized that my brain was in no shape to harbor any dream or hallucination, much less the most extraordinary, detailed, memorable, and meaningful experience of my entire life. How did that happen when my brain was so demonstrably offline? That’s why the medical community takes my case so seriously. You find it probably mentioned, for example, in the recent bigelowinstitute.org contest concerning the best scientific evidence for survival of consciousness beyond permanent bodily death.
[00:27:32] Ashley James: This experience that you’ve had and other people have had, it’s not common. A lot of people who are in comas, not everyone has the experience you had. But some have the medication, and it was the coma, and it was brain damage, and just things are firing off weird. Someone could explain it like that, but this isn’t common. If that were the case, then everyone in a coma or with brain damage or an infection in their brain would have the same experience?
[00:28:16] Dr. Eben Alexander: Well, this is the beauty of my case. The facts when you line them up from a medical perspective, as that case report does. They make it crystal clear that this brain could not have had any experience. There was no way for it to support a dream or hallucination because of the extensive damage to the neocortex. Then, of course, you’ve got the healing to explain. The healing completely defies medical expectations. There are no other cases of this kind of severe meningitis resulting in somebody who makes a full recovery. So that’s why this kind of exceptional case makes the point.
But to get back to your original statement, it turns out that NDE is quite common. Probably 15 to 20% of people with cardiac arrest have some elements of a true near-death experience. They’re insanely common when you start to look at all of it. So when you follow Gallup polls, that kind of information suggests 3 to 5% of people on Earth have had NDE. Four hundred million people or more have had NDE. Their commonality is far more striking than that they don’t happen to everyone.
[00:29:29] Ashley James: You call it a near-death experience. A friend of mine was pronounced legally dead and then came back to life and shared his experience with me of what we don’t know what to call heaven paradise. The Bible says we go to paradise first and heaven later. Wherever he was, he was clearly in the presence of God. He describes that tremendous love that is so intense, beautiful, and divine. He says it was like God is a son, that we’re all orbiting around his experience. His friend, whom he had met, had committed suicide and was distraught about that.
He met up with his friend, and his friend said that his guilt kept him from getting close to his love. It kept him like Pluto is like way out there orbiting but just not close enough, and that he was wrestling with the guilt of what he had done. And the hurt that he had caused his friends and family. So my friend ended up having a near-death experience again, saying that his friend had resolved it in the spiritual realm, had resolved and healed from it. Just these interesting experiences that people are having, and there are commonalities like everyone describes that love. Intense love is the sensation of being close to God and being close to our Creator. So that it is, it’s intense love.
Karen, you say that through your spiritual practices you have tapped into that and have experienced it. Do you teach this in the book Living in a Mindful Universe?
[00:31:26] Karen Newell: Somewhat, you can teach with your words but the experience of love must be generated as an experience. When we just talk about it, it doesn’t have the same sort of impact. Yes, I teach practices where people can start cultivating these kinds of experiences. I know for me, at first, it wasn’t easy. I grew up in a family where we were not demonstrative when it comes to our love. We weren’t saying I love you and all of that. We were a perfectly normal family. There wasn’t abuse going on or anything like that, but I wasn’t used to expressing love. As I got older, my parents had been divorced. I had a whole idea about how love is not necessarily always successful. I just was so curious, and eventually, when I started reading about it, I could only understand it intellectually, which is just not the same as the experience.
It was the work of HeartMath Institute that brought me to where I am now. That’s because they’ve been studying the heart for decades. They find that the heart emits an electromagnetic field. It expands and contracts around our body, and the brain also has one. The heart’s electromagnetic field is much, much bigger than the brain. The electric part is 60 times greater, and the magnetic part is 3000 times greater than the brain. So it expands and contracts around your body based on your emotional state.
Emotions like love, happiness, and joy will create a very large electromagnetic field, whereas emotions like grief, sadness, or anger might create a small electromagnetic field. What’s interesting is that this electromagnetic field seems to influence people around you. Whatever emotions are inside of you are the ones that are being radiated by your heart naturally. So I took this very seriously. I don’t want to have anything in my heart that might offend someone else. I was thinking mostly about my family and friends. I don’t want to affect them in a bad way.
I started to learn some of the HeartMath techniques, and they have one called Coherence Technique. It’s as simple as generating a feeling of gratitude in your heart, and it sounds simple. Let me generate a feeling of gratitude, and all I could do was generate thoughts of gratitude. I could think of things I was grateful for, but it didn’t change how I felt. I took the advice given and had to go over several different kinds of sessions where I had memories from my past. What made me feel joyful? What can I be grateful for? It’s going to be different for each of us. It was a memory of a stray dog my mom had taken in and turned out to be my childhood dog through college. She ended up having puppies underneath my bed just a short time after we adopted her, and for me, it was a magical moment. My mom probably thought it was a big mess, and I thought it was just beautiful, living, cute, little, lively creatures right there under my bed. And my dog trusted me to have them under my bed, not my brothers.
It was to memory, and from there, I remembered all the dogs I had ever known and loved. That connection with dogs and animals started to allow me to feel this flicker, this warm, glowing flicker in my heart. I thought— Oh my gosh, that’s it, and then it went away. So I had to go to a little practice. Eventually, when you’re able to generate these feelings of gratitude, you can have the intention to attract that love that exists from the source, from God, from the universe, whatever you want to say.
Once you’re able to generate it from within, it expands, and you attract this greater love. It is a framework of how it works, but that’s exactly how it worked for me. Everyone can learn how to do this, and we feel that love is just as overwhelming as your friend was driving. I can’t know if it’s the same as when in your near-death experience or feeling it may not be as intense. But wow, it’s certainly wonderful to feel. If I’m just feeling a fraction, five or 10% of what they’re feeling is worth it. So you feel this warm connection to something greater. You feel like you are always well in the universe that nothing can be wrong even if you’re in the middle of hardships, and all seems to make sense.
The love that I feel is our birthright when you think about the term making love. Ideally, we’re making love when a baby is created. I love how Eben puts it, and he calls them homes for souls. When you create a baby from the love between two individuals, you’re creating and making love. You’re creating a home for a soul to live in. I always think it wouldn’t be just an ideal world if that’s how every baby was created. But if not, we can still rediscover that love even if we’re not gifted with it throughout our lives.
[00:37:18] Ashley James: My husband had a similar experience growing up. Similar to that, there wasn’t a lot of demonstrative affection and love in his household. His dad just said to my husband in his 50s, just two months ago, said I love you for the first time. There’s a lot of emotional healing going on. In my life and my family’s life, just imagine being 50. So what is my husband,53? For the first time hearing, I love you, and his dad never said it to anyone. He didn’t see his dad give you a handshake, not a hug. These last few months, there’s been a lot of love and a lot of discovery of gratitude. So when our daughter was born and died, we turned to gratitude to focus on what we’re grateful for, or you’re focusing on what we don’t have.
A lot of people get wrapped up, especially in the material world. If only I had that Tesla. If only I had a house and only I had a million dollars. If only I had a better job. If only I had a better body or this or that. If only I had this carrot on a stick that we get wrapped up in. It’s the chasing of what we don’t have. I find it interesting to look at other religions or spiritual practices like Buddhism style or Zen. They say attachment creates suffering, and I would say attachment to what you don’t have to create suffering because the things I do have them attached to if I can stay focused on the gratitude around what I have. So what I have now, be grateful for what I have that makes me feel so much joy and thankfulness. That’s a prayer that I love to do. I take God if you don’t know what to pray for. It’s like we’re not asking Santa. It’s not like a Christmas list. I don’t want a pony. So when we’re praying, we could just be grateful. It could just be listing off everything you’re grateful for every day. Just thank You, God, for what you’ve given me. Thank You for what I have. Thank You for the help I do have.
[00:40:00] Karen Newell: You bring up an interesting point that we often look for objects outside of us to meet our needs. One way that we like to teach intention. If you want to create something in your life, it’s not to think– oh, that Cadillac or Tesla, whatever it is. But it’s what is the feeling you would have when you have that thing. Instead, focus on the feeling you’d like to feel. Generate that feeling. Just imagine you already have that thing that you want. What does it feel like?
When you generate that feeling instead of a thought of a particular thing you want, somehow the universe seems to know how to provide you with whatever will continue for that feeling to go on. Sometimes we don’t know if that Tesla may not be the thing that makes us feel that way. Maybe it’s a vacation to South Africa. Who knows? Sometimes, when we get an attachment to things can be so damaging because they may, even once we finally get them, not satisfy us in the way we had hoped. So it’s just a different way.
[00:41:05] Dr. Eben Alexander: I just pointed out one of the deepest lessons from a near-death experience. I think most near-death experiencers would agree that the true currency of a soul in terms of successfully navigating and growing through this life is all about relationships. You’ve been able to share love and kindness and compassion and mercy with others. The more successfully you can harvest the love of the universe for all that is. This focus on material things definitely falls away after a near-death experience because we learn truly. It’s all about our relationships. The more we can foster that sense of love and kindness and help others, our lives will be better.
[00:41:52] Ashley James: I did an interview a few years ago with a man traveling the world and studying depression and addiction. He talked about a study where they looked at cultures with the most material possessions and cultures with the least—looking at the level of satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy in one’s life. What I found fascinating is that you think the child with the most toys would be the happiest, and it’s the opposite of the children in South America who have one possession, and that’s a soccer ball, are the happiest. They’re far happier. These families with far less are far happier, more satisfied, feel more grateful, and have less depression than those in North America who have all the possessions we could ever want because they have the one soccer ball.
These kids have one soccer ball, and they get like 15, 20, and 30 friends together to play. It’s the relationships they have. In Latin America, the focus is strongly on the family. Everyone has cousins and aunts and uncles in the family structure, and relationships are important. More important than possessions. In America, culturally, it looks like we value possessions more than relationships. So it’s interesting to shift what we value.
[00:43:35] Dr. Eben Alexander: I would say the whole world of addiction and alcoholism is all about this notion of trying to fill this hole with material goods, material stuff, and substances that give you certain feelings. And what you realize in that addiction and alcoholism were you’re trying to fill a spiritual hole with material stuff. The only way to fill a spiritual hole is a spiritual matter. So growth of [inaudible 00:44:03] soul and a deeper understanding of one’s relationship. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the ego because the ego-mind, that little voice in our head, is not our ally in this journey.
The ego would rather see a toe’s dead and see itself dead that’s why many therapists do a ritual sacrifice. The ego allows it to be reborn in a much healthier kind of higher soul form, and not one so self-centered because that ego can lead us into tremendous toxicity, trying to satisfy its needs. The more we come to recognize this kind of bigger picture of who we are, it’s all about relationships, and it’s all about love and sharing kindness and compassion and mercy with others. The more satisfied we are with our lot in life. That’s done with gratitude, and forgiveness gives us tremendous tools to overcome most of the apparent hardships that human beings face.
[00:45:48] Ashley James: In the early days after your coma, did you begin to look at other examples? Can you share some other stories that struck you that made you realize others have had the same experience? You did mention two or three people shared the stories of what surprised you as you were in the early days you were doing your research and understanding that what you had was a visit to heaven.
[00:45:32] Dr. Eben Alexander: One of the people common things to encounter in near-death experience or just the dying experience in hospice care, in terminal patient care. What are you encountering in the soul of the departed loved one? In fact, for me, that means you’ve got an authentic experience right there. But, of course, the [inaudible 00:45:52]coma has said that the hallucinations you’re encountering as a whole of a departed loved one. I now know those are very real encounters; in fact, that’s imprimatur proving it to be real. Many other features of NDEs are quite common. The notion of going from darkness into light is sometimes described through a tunnel. Certainly, encountering that infinitely loving and healing God force is something that many NDEs involve. They also can involve encountering religious figures, although that’s much less common. For example, encountering Jesus Christ or Muhammad or something like that is not very common. Certainly, the encounters with the souls of departed loved ones can be very evidential to help someone realize that it’s all about relationships and that our souls do not die.
The biggest gift to me in this whole experience of sharing my story publicly is that thousands of people share their experiences with me. That kind of thing has proven the reality of this. We shared the resonance and overlap of these stories in the second book, The Map of Heaven. In our third book, Living in Mindful Universe, we go the distance to make this argument that science and spirituality are coming together. So the only way for them to move forward is by this kind of shared acknowledgment of rehab of spiritual reality. So that is one where our minds are all connected. That’s one of the deepest pieces of evidence for the reality of this afterlife, and all that is this notion of one mind.
I would say that the game has just changed dramatically in the last year about this question of an afterlife. Robert Bigelow, an aerospace engineer in Las Vegas, put up $1.8 million in prize money and challenged scientists who study this question– what is the best evidence for survival of consciousness after permanent bodily death? He received over 200 essays written by groups studying the question of the afterlife for more than five years from a scientific perspective. The 29 winning essays are available to the public for free right now, at bigelowinstitute.org.
If you go and read the first place essay by Jeffrey Mishlove, who spent more than half a century studying this evidence, you’ll realize, of course, there’s an afterlife. We don’t understand how it works yet. Certainly not going to fit into you all kinds of religious or scientific wishes of the day. The more we investigate and the more we find out its reality, not only in the afterlife realm. Many of those essays also discuss the scientific evidence for reincarnation.
Reincarnation was never anything I considered as part of reality before my coma. My coma journey showed me very clearly that our souls come back again and again. In this process of continued refinement, but given the importance of relationships, you never have to worry that a loved one who is reincarnated before they would be available to you at your own passage. Some people worry a lot about that. That’s where that whole notion of deep time and a different causal ordering from this spiritual perspective is so important to get. So if you go to bigelowinstitute.org and start reading those essays, you’ll find a tremendous amount of evidence. Reading those essays, no rational person will ever doubt the reality of the afterlife and reincarnation again.
It just means we need a much bigger theater of operations to understand and explain the brain-mind relationships and the nature of reality that we seem to witness as human beings.
[00:49:49] Ashley James: In science, because of your latest book, you talk about how science is now catching up to the spiritual in understanding it. Is there anything from your book scientifically that helps us better understand the spiritual realm or the afterlife?
[00:50:12] Dr. Eben Alexander: Yes, we go into great detail in the book Living in a Mindful Universe to do two major things. One is to make the scientific case for the primacy of consciousness of philosophical opposition, known as objective idealism. I think the whole world of quantum physics has been poised to acknowledge that reality for a long time. And the founding fathers of the field sifted the primacy of consciousness and the oneness of mind. In fact, in the second place winning essay Dr. Pim Van Lommel wrote a beautiful scientific explanation based on NDEs that he studied for over decades as a cardiologist.
Towards the end of this essay, he makes the argument for the one mind. We’re all sharing this one consciousness of [inaudible 00:51:02] to top-down calls of principles of the universe. He lists four scientific resources for this one-mind idea. One is the book, One Mind, by our friend and colleague, Dr. Larry Dossey, which came out in 2013. A wonderful expert vision of this oneness of mind between human beings that we share with other life forms, too—a very important concept.
He also mentioned the book Spiritual Science by Steve Taylor. He mentioned a Beautiful Paper by Bernardo Kastrup. I think it’s in the Journal of Consciousness studies entitled The Universe in Consciousness. Then he lists our book Living in a Mindful Universe as the fourth major scientific resource of the one mind. I would add Pim Van Lommel’s book, Consciousness Beyond Life. I think those five resources together will give people a full-blown scientific view of this concept of the one mind and how top-down causality from the mental air of the universe explains a tremendous amount of quantum physics about the hard problem of consciousness. So this is an impossible problem for materialism to try and conjure up a way for phenomenal experience to emerge from any arrangement of physical matter like the substance in the brain.
We also go into the apparent unity of consciousness, known as the binding problem in the philosophy of mind. Especially in this discussion of the consilience of supporting the one mind hypothesis for the primordial mind hypothesis, as we call it in our book, Living in a Mindful Universe. All the evidence for nonlocal consciousness comes out of the world of parapsychology. So this is the kind of evidence that I would have dismissed and debunked before my coma out of pure willful ignorance.
I know now that’s a pretty foolish position to take the evidence for things like telepathy, remote viewing, precognition, presentiment, psychokinesis, distance healing, power of prayer, near-death experiences, shared death experiences. These are identical in quality to near-death that happened in very healthy people and past life memories and children suggestive of reincarnation.
You go to uvadops.org— University of Virginia Division of Perceptual Studies. For more than six decades, they’ve accumulated over 2500 cases of past life memories in children, 1700 plus of those cases have been quoted solved. That is the research. They identify the person described as living the previous life of that described by that child. All this evidence is what we cover in Living in a Mindful Universe. It takes a store to a very profound consilience and consolidation of scientific evidence supporting the notion of the one mind. Our souls come back and again in this refinement process towards oneness with the Divine.
[00:54:04] Ashley James: Karen, as you wrote this book with Eben, the Living in a Mindful Universe, I always like to talk to authors because although they are the experts of their book, they’re also the students. To get into that position of learning while you’re researching for your book, I love what unfolds for authors. What unfolded that surprised you the most as you guys wrote this book together?
[00:54:36] Karen Newell: What unfolded surprised me? Eben is very scientific, as you can hear from how he explains everything. Our goal was to make it accessible to the non-scientific mind while also ensuring that these science-minded people would not be thinking– Oh, you took shortcuts and all of that. I thought science was not something that was my forte and one of the exercises we went through in the book is when Eben did write with a very scientific passion. So I had to understand that goal, and that’s how it would stay in the book.
I learned a lot about quantum physics and the experiments in quantum physics, the double-slit experiment. Everyone always talks about the difference etween a photon and a wave. None of that had been of any interest to me, and I had to learn that. So in the process of doing it, I learned how to describe it in ways that laypeople would understand. That was interesting, a topic that I had avoided for my whole life. Then, suddenly, I was helping to try to explain it so that other people could understand it.
That was a really interesting few months, and we still go through that now. Not as much because I’ve learned so much, but when he’s trying to explain a concept, if I don’t get it, the burden is on him to make sure that I do. That’s been an interesting exercise to bring together the hardcore heavy science into a more accessible format. So that people who are more spirit-minded can access it and understand why it matters in our daily lives. Because of all of these things we can talk about, the philosophers pontificate about the reality of our universe, but when it comes down to it, it’s the experience. Individual people are walking around in this world. So that’s what matters. So that’s what we brought together. For me, that challenge was bringing science in.
[00:57:02] Dr. Eben Alexander: I would simply add that was a huge part of our effort. The book was not just to explain these things from a scientific perspective. But to offer people tools to explore their own life and consciousness because I had come to realize within two years in a coma if I had any hope of understanding the deeper nature of my journey. I had a much more active cultivating, navigating, and exploring my consciousness, which I ended up doing through meditation.
In Living in a Mindful Universe, we also talk about Karen’s work. She’s the co-founder of Sacred Acoustics, and that’s a form of binaural beat brainwave entrainment that I use an hour to a day and have been doing for the last ten plus years. In my own personal exploration, we wanted to share a personal experience with people. The book also has some indicators and information to help people in their own exploration of consciousness.
[00:58:00] Ashley James: I love hearing that a neurosurgeon likes the binaural beats music and uses it. So this is exciting because I’ve loved listening to these different melodies with different wavelengths, and I’ve always found it really helpful. I found this one on YouTube that’s like—come, focus and study for ADHD people, and I put that on. I could focus for like an hour while I was listening to it. It’s just beautiful melodies going back and forth. It helps me focus that I always laugh because it’s like for ADHD people to focus and study. I juggle so many things, I have a kid at homeschool, taking care of everyone and everything in my life, and then I’ve got the podcast. I’m constantly being interrupted by all these other things. So I think it’s my environment that makes me ADHD.
[00:59:04] Karen Newell: You’re not alone. It’s not just you don’t have to label it as ADHD. We all can use the tools to help us get into a better state of focus you mentioned in these YouTube videos. We create at sacredacoustics.com. We create the same type of recordings. Just to caution on YouTube, the audio quality can only be so high when you merry it with a video. You’re not getting the best quality, the best potential to deliver binaural beats. You might want to check out sacredacoustics.com.
We have a free download that you can get by entering your email address. We also have something called the whole mind bundle, and it includes recordings that deliver Delta, Theta, and Alpha signals. Those Alpha signals that you’re probably listening to help you get into that more focused state. Theta signals will help you go a little deeper into a more meditative state, and Delta signals will help you sleep. So many, many people listen to these recordings to help them sleep.
So this whole mind bundle it’s available at sacredacoustics.com. We use that in a pilot study. A psychiatrist in New York City applied them in her psychiatric practice. She prescribed this set of recordings that people can sometimes listen to flexibly while doing other activities, just like you said. Also, there are shorter recordings that people can use for like 20 minutes a day to help them establish a regular meditative practice.
What she found with Dr. Anna Yusim and then published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease in February 2020 was that a 26% reduction in anxiety occurred. People were able to sleep better, focus better, and reduce their anxiety. The control group, the patients in the same practice, did not listen to the recordings but only had regular therapy. Over the same period of about two weeks, they saw a 7% reduction in anxiety. So 26 versus 7% just by adding listening to these recordings.
Even if you’re listening to them to help you focus, they could potentially help to reduce your anxiety. One obvious way is if you’re able to focus and get your work done, you’re not as anxious about getting everything finished. Do they seem to play another role in really helping to relax the brain? Beta is the state we’re in when we’re walking around, talking, and anxious, and that’s a higher state. Binaural Beats are designed to deliver these lower states of awareness by delivering one signal to one year. A slightly different signal to the other ear. The difference between those two frequencies gives you the brainwave state we’re trying to deliver.
So Delta, the border between delta and theta, is right at four hertz. So many of our audio recordings deliver a four-hertz signal that borders between awakening asleep. So this allows you to support the body and profound relaxation, but the mind doesn’t fall asleep. It’s still aware. That’s the meditative space, the hypnagogic state where we can start to release all the emotional traumas, focus on feelings that we want to manifest in our lives, ask questions about problems that we might be having, and get some answers. We can also use that space to do lucid dreaming kind of activities.
It’s also possible to connect with your departed loved ones. Those who have passed from this world are often trying to contact and stay connected to people who are still here living on Earth in their human bodies. So when we are more open to that, when we can get into a relaxed state, we might more readily notice this attention they’re trying to give us.
There are many applications that people use these recordings for, not just focus. Certainly, the focus is one of those primary tasks that we all need help with during the day. Certainly, these days, anxiety, addiction, all of that is just running rampant. So any kind of tool that people can use at the beginning of COVID, that’s right when this study came out. Actually, right when it was published. I wanted to make these recordings available to others right when we entered into these lockdowns when people were panicking and so nervous and upset about what was going on.
I drastically reduced the price of these recordings to $19 for a whole set of nine recordings and a PDF guide that teaches you how to use that. I also made a free option because many people are in financial uncertainty. I didn’t want there to be any barrier at all. So many people have taken us up on that offer, and I feel gratitude towards them because I understand we are all part of one mind or one consciousness and one heart. So I feel that each of us takes the time to quiet the mind, release emotional traumas, focus on that essence of who we truly are, and find that meaning and purpose in our lives. As each person does that, I am so grateful because that contributes to the whole. So this is what I feel every one of us can do to contribute to the whole. We’re not only helping ourselves, but we’re helping everyone else by bringing our health into balance.
[01:05:08] Ashley James: I love it, and thank you so much for making that free for those in financial hardships. I am so grateful for people who are helping people. That experience of being we are all connected, I said that at the beginning. We’re all born, we all die, we have a lot in common, and if we could take on this idea that we’re all part of these raw pieces of the puzzle. I read something once God loves you so much. You’re one of his children. He also loves you so much that he is like your worst enemy. The person that you hate so much. He loves them just as much, and it’s like being a parent with two fighting kids.
If you can look at that person who you despise, maybe because of where they come from, or their background or what they believe in, their different political beliefs or different religious beliefs, or they’re just on the opposite spectrum of one of your values or one of your beliefs. You look at them, and you can’t understand them. You don’t like them as an entire group of people because they’re on the opposite part of the belief system than you. If you can look at those people and get that even though on this plane of existence at this very moment in the mindset and you guys can’t see eye to eye. You might not like each other because of your beliefs and values and whatever it is.
If you can both get that you were born into a family, you all have many things in common. That God loves you. That you are loved, showered with love and gratitude, and can transmute even your worst enemy in your mind. When you realize that this person, as much as you don’t like them or because of their beliefs, you guys have so much more in common than you think. If we could all live that way, we could all look at every one. Imagine if all politicians could look across the other side and go; we have so much in common.
Why don’t we focus on what we have in common and the common good we want to do? Of course, it doesn’t sell headlines. The mainstream media wants to keep us in fear, keeps us like it’s clickbait. Life right now could be social media’s clickbait and everything that is causing turmoil. There have been studies done that prove that things on Facebook and Instagram are increasing suicide among youth. I think suicide is now the second leading cause of death in youth under the age of 24. Mental and emotional health that’s the true pandemic right now. If we look at how many people are on antidepressants and anxiety meds.
I love that you talked about what we’re missing in cultivating spiritual health when we cultivate spiritual health that helps us heal our mental and emotional health. I found a new church. I just love it and have been going several times a week. And that’s where I’ve been doing so much of my emotional healing and working through the post-traumatic stress that I’ve had over the last year. We’re worshiping and praising, and we have so much gratitude. Everyone is in a state of gratitude, and then the whole, there are hundreds of us, and we all feel what’s described as the Holy Spirit. We all feel a connection to God, and it is so intense and so beautiful. It just feels so real.
I understand what you said about how you can practice spiritual experiences, especially with gratitude that gets you in that state of love. I’d love for you guys to talk about– either one of you. What kind of tools could be helpful that you already have mentioned a few? Do you have any more tools that could be helpful for those who are suffering from grief, loss, depression, and anxiety which is something I feel that so many are suffering from right now?
[01:10:05] Karen Newell: What is one of the very simple tools I often recommend to people is just to imagine that your breath is moving in and out of your heart. You can imagine your breath. A lot of meditative teachers will have you practice imagining what is coming in and out of your left toe. Something anywhere on your body it’s an exercise in moving your awareness. But when you imagine that it’s moving in and out of your heart, it’s filling up a bubble around your body, a little sphere. If you can imagine that your breath moves in and out of you in all directions, this really moves you out of your thinking mind. That’s where your distress is coming from. The heart does not have a linguistic center. Interesting Heart Math will tell you that the heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.
I feel like it’s collecting information out in the world and sending it up to the brain. Then the brain has to assign meaning to it and come up with words to describe it. We can escape those words, that little voice that maybe is telling us we’re not good enough or keeping us in a state of procrastination instead of productivity. Whatever it is, move your awareness to your heart. Imagine your breath is moving in and out of there. That’s a beautiful exercise that can help get people wrapped around it. I will tell you that some addiction doctors have used our free recordings, the alm recordings, right on patients when they’re in distress. They’ll come in, and they’ll be all strung out, and they can’t get them to come to have a conversation. So this doctor will pop the headphones. You have to use headphones to get the full power of these recordings. Put the headphones on the patients, and they just get calm right away. So lots and lots of tools related to the sound and just how you hold your awareness.
[01:12:14] Dr. Eben Alexander: The only other point I was making is a key starting point for people. Kind of new to this is in this kind of meditation, going within what you’re doing is acknowledging that this kind of mental air of the universe is something shared throughout the universe with great influence. The important step to take at the beginning of any such meditation is that one has to realize they are not to identify without running a stream of thoughts in their head. So many people think the running stream of thoughts in their heads is who they are. It’s their identity.
I’ll point out that it is your ego-mind, and that certainly serves some purpose in the general survival of biological systems on Earth. And yet we are far beyond the predator, prey, and dance that involves so much of biology. So that’s no longer humankind of preoccupation. My point is that we can discover that we’re much more than just our physical bodies. So we’re much more than just running a stream of thoughts.
In his book, The Untethered Soul, I love how Michael Singer calls running a stream of thoughts in your head the annoying roommate, and that’s a very important way to look at it because that’s not truly who we are. We can come to much greater discovery by cultivating the sense of connection across the veil with a unified mind with God-consciousness that has the highest and best good for all involved as its primary interest.
There’s something I would paraphrase from Einstein, and he said the true value of this whole depends on how much they’ve liberated themselves from the concept itself. That’s where this ego-mind, this voice in our head, can be so misleading. And Rene Descartes, a renowned French philosopher of hundreds of years ago, said, I think therefore I am. I wish he clarified it a little bit and said, I am aware of my thoughts, and therefore I exist.
That awareness of them, that’s the part that outlasts the death of the body and brain. That’s the part that actually expands when we die. That’s what near-death experiencers tell you: your awareness doesn’t shrink down to nothing as a materialist would postulate. Still, it expands when you’re liberated from the shackles of the physical brain and body. This is something we can all practice through meditation. Flipping these surly bonds of Earth in the material realm and the apparent here now and this kind of sense of self. We all have the freedom within meditation and centering prayer to escape from that kind of false imprisonment of the illusion of being isolated as an individual physical being. We’re much more than that, and that’s really one of the deepest lessons to start within this adventure is exploring that shared consciousness.
[01:15:20] Ashley James: Now, you lost your sense of self. You had mentioned that it’s like your ego wasn’t there, you didn’t know who you were, but that needed to happen so you would learn and accept what was going on? I’ve heard of near-death experiences where people didn’t know who they were, and they did see fellow members who had passed or met Jesus and knew who they were.
[01:10:50] Dr. Eben Alexander: Right.
[01:15:52] Ashley James: Is your experience uncommon that people don’t know who they are? Or are there some experiences people do and some don’t know? How can we better understand near-death experiences if this really happens when we die?
[01:16:15] Dr. Eben Alexander: I think the important thing to point out is that near-death experiences, as we said earlier, probably 400 million people around the world patterns are very common. And when you study them, you find a lot of commonalities, and you’re exactly right. Most people go into this with full memory of their lives. All this tells me is if my experience was incomplete, if I’m going to die, I would have gone on to that next level of going through the life review. Now it’s important to point out, though, that I did witness life reviews with a very powerful passion, even though I cannot have an Eben Alexander life review because of my amnesia.
The way I saw them, and these both occur in separate passages through the core realm, first was what I call the Flying Fish analogy, and that was basically where I experienced becoming flying fish. And when we’re down in the water, we are dumbed down. We didn’t have all the knowledge of our higher soul. We were buying into this material incarnation and that’s it. It gives a skin in the game. But then when I popped up out of the water into the air, as flying fish, I was in that space between lives and reunited with a higher soul and all that kind of thing.
Now, this next vision was even grander and happened on a separate passage through the core; it’s what I call the Indras Net Vision. That was this extraordinary higher dimensional network of interconnected threads, and the threads represented soul lines of an individual soul from multiple incarnations approaching this incredible enlightenment and oneness with the Divine. In that particular vision, that ultimate goal was reflected as this kind of golden center to this web network to which we were all kind of attached and working our way through these incarnations. The life review and reincarnation were very clearly presented to me in these visions.
Now the important thing to stress is months after my coma, and this is something we explained in Living in a Mindful Universe. If I had scripted my NDE first and foremost, my father would be there. My doctor father was a world-renowned neurosurgeon. He was very important in my life. It passed over four years before my coma. And surprising to me, especially because I’ve never had NDE in the literature before after my NDE, at the advice of my older son majoring in neuroscience, who knew every time you revisit a memory, you change it. So he told me to write everything that I could remember from my NDE before I read anybody else’s NDE. That was important information. I wrote 20,000 words over six weeks or so.
And then, I started reading the NDE literature and that’s when I was totally blown away by a lot of similarities. I was surprised by the absence of my father and we explained that especially in the third book, Living in Mind for Universe, how he appeared to me in meditation two and a half years after my coma. It made it very clear that if he had been apparent to me as he could, he could not be apparent to me in my NDE. Despite a one in ten million diagnosis from an E.coli bacteria of meningitis in an adult, despite a one in a billion recovery, if my father had been the one on there, I would have been more tempted to dismiss it. So you only see what you want to see all the way out. So it’s a psychological factor, that’s why my guardian angel had to be who she was. Someone deeply important to me in my life. Anyway, that’s kind of the longer version of NDEs, of life reviews, of my father’s presence and discovering the importance of why he couldn’t be there in my original NDE.
[01:20:07] Karen Newell: You touched on how we can know that Eben’s experience or people who have near-death experiencers have the same kind of experience we would have when we actually go on to die. Fortunately, we have data on that. Christopher Kerr is a director and doctor at Hospice Buffalo, and he started doing studies on hospice patients some years ago. He wanted to hear from them directly. So what is it that you’re experiencing as you get closer to death because up until then, it was only clinicians who had reported their observations of what people were going through?
No, actually asked for dying patients themselves and that was brought up at the institutional review board where this is going to be proper. Dr. Kerr explained that these patients are actually benefited by having the opportunity to talk about their experiences. What’s so remarkable is that around 90% of the subjects stated did have what he called End of Life Dreams and Visions. The dreams happen when the subject is asleep. When they’re awake and have these experiences, they’re called visions.
It’s the same type of experience that the subject is usually the same whether you’re awake or asleep, which is so weird for us. People who just have dreams think they’re a little different at any rate. These were very realistic types of dreams. These people reported them to be hyper-real, more real than real, and they would say as if they were actually lit. Which is remarkably exactly how near-death experiencers describe near-death experiencers. Their experiences say that they’re more real than real.
The other thing that happens is that people will say that there are scenes of travel where they know they’re going somewhere, that they’re packing or they’re in a car or bus, and they’re going somewhere. But they don’t necessarily know where they’re going. So the idea that it’s the end is not really brought out in these experiments. The other thing that’s very common in these experiences is that people will start to relive their life.
So when Eben talks about this life review, people in the– let’s say a couple of weeks before they die, say they’re in the hospice center. The first dreams that they started to have are up to their childhood. They’ll stretch or relive childhood events and connect with people they knew back then. They could still be alive, or they could still be dead at this point. But as they get closer to death, the prevalence of dreams and visions involving deceased relatives increases dramatically.
Often they’re just seen as being present, quietly observing, always emanating this loving energy, and other times they actually interact. We can be quite certain that actual death is very similar to what near-death experiencers tell us. It seems that life review starts to begin before you actually die. Once you actually die, it just continues in another form. And near-death experiencers, of course, are dying, necessarily in a natural way. So many people are oftentimes natural because it couldn’t have to do with a heart attack or something, but it’s a sudden way. If they’re not being led into death over many weeks and then days and then hours. It happens suddenly and they just pop right into their life reviews without a chance to start gradually. So this gives us a lot of information that can make us very confident that our awareness continues that we encounter the souls that departed loved ones. That love is a thief that’s another thing they say is that– everything is related to love and those loving bonds. We often call it the binding force of love because it keeps us connected even into the afterlife.
[01:24:23] Ashley James: We’ve talked about beautiful positive things. I’m going to turn to something negative now, but I hope there’s hope here. I feel like we’re in dark times. Hopefully, not everyone feels the same way. Hopefully, there are people who don’t feel like we’re in dark times, but there’s a strong sense that there’s a spiritual war. A lot of people that I know believe that there are demons. There are negative entities that there are forces out there that are not wanting what’s in our best interest. In your research in studying near-death experiences, studying the afterlife, and spirituality. Have you come across the concept where people are struggling with demonic possessions or a feeling like there are negative forces that are hindering them from being able to live that life full of gratitude and love and connect with God and move into a positive spiritual realm?
[01:25:37] Dr. Eben Alexander: I would say, especially, when you look at the broad literature on near-death experiences and combine it certainly with Christopher Kerr’s work as Karen was discussing the end-of-life experience so commonly encountered. You find that 90 to 95% of it is just this beautiful, blissful kind of finding of a spiritual realm. You don’t find that there’s some battle between good and evil going on in the spiritual realm. In fact, even that kind of predefined set of near-death experiences that are turned into hellish NDEs or negative NDEs is often involved– for example, someone who has been so busy handing out pain and suffering to others that their life review might seem kind of hellish because you have to be on the receiving end of that in life.
Your life review is not from your perspective. But from the perspective of those around you who were influenced by your actions and thoughts. But the overall ambiance of that kind of community and those reports. This even includes, for example, if you go to the really negative kind of expectations, you might have to say, for example, inadequate prison where with rapists and murderers, you find that when prisoners work as hospice workers for fellow prisoners, they still uncover these same stories of kind of redemption of forgiveness of people facing the bad that they’ve done in this life, but seeing it in this light of love that guides them more towards a loving presence.
That’s why I think overall, the evolution of humanity, given this huge kind of factor NDEs and the loving ambiance in the background, that over a period of time, we do become more loving and move away from this kind of false sense of separation in comes of materialistic thought. I would agree with you that our current world is very apparently conflicted, polarized, lots of conflicts, violence, warfare, economic polarization, corporate greed, climate change, and all that. I would say that the answer to that is a spiritual awakening. It simply involves more and more people becoming aware of this deep truth about our existence that in many ways is very optimistic.
When you look at the big literature on NDE reports, for example, the ions website hosts thousands and thousands of reports with these kinds of experiences. The overall background is one of a very positive transformation of humanity. Kenneth Ring is one of the founders of the International Association of near-death studies. He wrote it three decades ago. It’s about how just people knowing NDEs could change their own reality.
You don’t have to have an NDE just knowing about these experiences and their commonality helps all of us to come into a deeper sense of the higher good that we can practice in meditation, centering prayer, and through the way that we live our lives and all the choices, we make every day. But despite the apparent hardships, and I would say that the hardships are there, just as in the world of alcoholism and addiction study where people have these hardships that they’re dealing with. It’s like getting a bottom, a gift of desperation that they’re able to bounce back up and gain the energy to improve themselves.
Likewise, society is facing a collective gift of desperation with all these apparent hardships, conflicts, political polarization, etcetera. There is a way out, and that is for humanity to truly become wise. Homo sapiens, the word sapiens, means wise. Yes, you could attribute much of the scientific advances in medicine, communication, transportation, etcetera. Over the last two centuries to been a wise move. When you look at the ugly underbelly of all our addiction to fossil fuels, the floating gyre of plastic twice the size of Texas floating in the Pacific Ocean, these are obviously very negative sides of our technological growth. So it’s time for humanity to really grow up and quit living this kind of myth of false separation from each other.
We’re all in this together. We need to take care of each other. And we need to have a much longer timescale. Politicians and corporate leaders look at the next quarterly report for next year’s elections. We need to look at 50 years in the future and our children and the quality of their lives and start doing what’s right for them. So that’s where I think this world can start to take stewardship as we should truly. If we’re going to call ourselves Homo sapiens and start leading this world in a much more positive direction, that’s beneficial to all.
[01:30:39] Ashley James: Your book Living in a Mindful Universe, there’s a lot of tools, a lot of actionable steps, can you guys certainly want to leave with us or teach the listeners today?
[01:30:51] Dr. Eben Alexander: I think the main thing is just to take time each day to go with that. Realize that little ego voice with a lot of its demands on you is not who you truly are. To try and cultivate a richer relationship across the veil with that primordial mind, that God force that has love, kindness, compassion, and mercy right at the core of all of this activity.
[01:31:15] Karen Newell: When we say go within, that may look different for each of us. It really is incumbent on each of us to try different practices. Find that combination of practices that work best for you because it’s going to be different for each of us. We are both very big fans of using sacred acoustics recordings to get into expanded states that not everyone will respond the same way, and so if that doesn’t work, you try something else. Some people like to do movement sorts of things, and others do centering prayer. I like how you said when you go to your church, and there’s a community of people, you’re all focused on generating that connection to the Holy Spirit together. Doing this with other people can strengthen the experience exponentially. I like to imagine that it is all about our heart energies interacting, and we are supporting each other in this effort. When you’re not nearby other people, you can always imagine that your highest energy expands all the way out to the entire Earth. It’s interesting at Heart Math when they measure that electromagnetic field. Whatever device they use, we seem to go to the maximum distance that it can measure. Who knows, it might be unlimited. Eben will always remind me that we can’t get confused and think that the electromagnetic field, which is a material thing, is all that it is. It’s a very useful mechanism that we can focus on that we know is happening, whether we realize it or not.
[01:32:53] Dr. Eben Alexander: There’s a much deeper form of information overlay between minds that presents in quantum physics as entanglement, and that would be my point. This kind of communication goes beyond just electromagnetic things that will be limited by the speed of light. Also, in adding to the comments you were making, I would point out that we’ve started developing a community of like-minded people, and you can access that at unitedinhopeandhealing.com. Very specifically, Karen had the idea that since all of our jobs were canceled back in March 2020 for the summer, she decided we would interview the scientists and fellow experiencers that we would have been meeting up with at those conferences. We would just interview them for the benefit of the public at large, and those interviews we did once every two weeks for most of the pandemic. They’re available at unitedinhopeandhealing.com for free to the public. We hope that those will help people realize there’s a community of like-minded people growing up around all of this kind of teaching and effort.
[01:34:00] Karen Newell: On that same website is a membership platform. The webinar access is all free. People can also connect, and we do on our platform, our teaching platform, where we have some core classes, but then also we do monthly Q&As, where people can submit any questions they want. So we take about 90 minutes to answer them. That’s also going on that same website if people are interested.
[01:34:25] Dr. Eben Alexander: There’s also a course available for mental health practitioners co-taught by Karen, myself, and Dr. Anna Yusim. I would say that course can be very valuable in helping people deal with mental health issues in the modern era.
[01:34:43] Karen Newell: One last resource is an online companion workbook that we created to go with Living in a Mindful Universe, and it’s called your 33-day journey into the heart of consciousness. If you go to ebenalexander.com, you’ll find a link to that 33-day journey. It’s an email. Just get an email once today with a note and a personal practice, and it’s all related to the book Living in a Mindful Universe.
[01:35:15] Ashley James: Excellent because I was actually just to ask about the free online course that you guys have, that’s ebenalexander.com/33days. Of course, the links to everything you talked about are going to be in the show notes for today’s podcast, learntruehealth.com. So listeners go to learntruehealth.com to catch that or in the description whatever podcast platform you’re listening from. Go in the description, and I’ll make sure that all those links are there, of course, the links also to the books as well. This is such a beautiful thing to focus on. You’ve given us so many tools. I love the idea of making sure that we take time every day to stand in gratitude. To imagine when it comes to wanting something we don’t have, imagine what it would feel like to have it. Then imagine yourself having that feeling, that same feeling, and what other things you can experience or other relationships you can cultivate that will also give you that feeling. Stepping away from– I will be happy until I have this physical object and stepping towards your whole complete imperfect now as you are in and your possessions aren’t really don’t bring joy. But focusing on building relationships and staying grounded in love. Remember that even those people you don’t necessarily like or understand or get along with they’re just like you. They’re all part of the same soup. We’re all in it together. We’re all God’s children. And even these little mind shifts can help us live a more fulfilled life and a life where we’re focusing on being just beautiful human beings. I saw someone yesterday who was wearing a pin that said—humankind, be both. It’s exactly, be both, be kind and be human.
[01:37:31] Dr. Eben Alexander: I would like to think they go hand in hand.
[01:37:34] Ashley James: Thank you so much for coming on the show guys. This has been a pleasure and if you have more resources or discover more information and you want to come back and share more science. I would love you back.
[01:37:50] Dr. Eben Alexander: Ashley, great talking with you. Thanks for having us on.
[01:37:53] Karen Newell: Yes, and thanks for all you do to help others as well and get all of this information and 20 more other people that you interview out into the world. Thank you so much.
[01:38:03] Ashley James: It is my pleasure.
Best Yogurt Maker for this type of fermentation:
BOOK: Super Gut: A Four-Week Plan to Reprogram Your Microbiome, Restore Health, and Lose Weight
After the success of Wheat Belly, Dr. William Davis is back with a new book, Super Gut: A Four-Week Plan to Reprogram Your Microbiome, Restore Health, and Lose Weight. Super Gut explains how we can eliminate bad bacteria and breed good bacteria in the gut. In this episode, Dr. Davis shares specific bacteria that we can ferment that can target specific areas such as deeper sleep, increased libido, and muscle injury reduction.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Okay, I’ve got a few really exciting things to share with you before we dive into today’s interview, so you don’t want to skip this part. I interviewed Dr. William Davis, this is today’s interview, back in February. My life’s been crazy. I have been wanting to sit down and publish this since I did the interview. It was late February.
We were in the middle of moving, packing, moving, and it was total chaos. I’m so happy, I finally have a moment to sit down today and publish this. I’ve got 10 more interviews. I’m just backlogged with interviews that I want to get out there and publish. Just watch out. They’re going to start coming out more frequently now. I’m so excited to finally get back onto a regular schedule now that we’ve landed in our new location.
This interview was so life-changing for me because in January and February, I was having breakdowns, emotional breakdowns. My mind was okay, I was like, hey, I can taskmaster. Give me five things and I’m going to just bang them out. My mind was totally clear, but all of a sudden, I just noticed that my physical body was incredibly stressed out.
I am definitely handling a lot of things in the last year and then I had a lot on my plate. Mentally I felt fine, This is the whole thing, I don’t feel stressed. Stress is not an emotion. I started noticing that the littlest thing would have me in tears. It wasn’t just one part of the month, it was two months straight. I was in tears at the littlest thing. I felt so bad for my husband and my son who is so good-hearted. I’m sure it was scary all of a sudden like seeing my mom smiling one second then mom’s crying another, what’s going on. I tried to explain as best I could. I did notice that my body was definitely emotionally in overwhelm. This was just such perfect timing to get this interview.
At the beginning of the interview, I had no idea that this was going to be the answer to what I needed. With what Dr. William Davis shared, I took his information and I made one of the things he shares about today is a specific kind of—it’s hard to call it yogurt but it’s a fermented thing that you can make to eat. I made it out of soy milk and then I made it out of coconut milk just to try different plant-based options because I’m allergic to dairy but if you’re not allergic to dairy you can follow his recipe. What was just so cool and I’m so excited to share with you is that I had a result the same day I took it.
The last time I had such a profound effect was when I got on the supplements that takeyoursupplements.com sells back 11 years ago. I think it was about 11 years ago. I was so sick. I had polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility, type 2 diabetes, and chronic adrenal fatigue so bad that I couldn’t process human language in the morning. I was in really rough shape.
Getting on those supplements and going gluten-free, so cutting out barley, wheat, rye, and oats, and then getting on the supplements, the trace minerals they sell, especially the liquid vitamin which is really bioavailable and absorbable, and the trace minerals, within 24 hours of being on those, I noticed my blood sugar began to balance. That constant gnawing hunger went away within five days of being on the supplements. My energy levels were the highest they had been in 20 years. For somebody who has chronic adrenal fatigue, it’s amazing. It wasn’t like energy that was jittery, it was just like real energy like my body started coming back online because it was so deficient in those minerals.
Often, when we have a mineral deficiency, we have symptoms across the board that doesn’t make sense to doctors because the doctors are not taught what trace mineral deficiency looks like, that’s just not in their wheelhouse. By getting on the supplements that takeyoursupplements.com sells, I was able to—they’re very specific to each person and their needs—turn around within five days. I thought this was amazing. In terms of getting better from feeling horrible to feeling great, it was one to five days, boom, that was amazing.
Since then, I have had great experiences with many products. Using what Dr. William Davis shares today had me go from crying and just—I’m pretty sure I was still struggling with depression and all the changes that have happened with our family. Then I took the stuff that he told me to ferment, a very, very specific strain of probiotic, and 4I noticed a shift. That day was the last day I broke down crying for (I don’t want to say) no reason, but it’s kind of like crying over spilled milk like a way to overreact. Something small would happen, and my body would just completely meltdown.
Since I started introducing this specific probiotic, it’s a specific strain that affects the brain chemistry. How cool is that? It helps balance the brain chemistry so you feel happier. It also helps with insomnia so you get better sleep. I don’t have bad sleep, but I started getting better sleep. I started waking up wow, that was a really deep sleep. It helps with sleep. It helps with joy and a feeling of contentment, a feeling of connection, connectivity to the people you care about. It has a few other really cool positive results that Dr. William Davis is going to go in today. I wanted to let you know that since this interview, I tried it and I’ve been eating it, and I’ve been getting fantastic results. There’s my testimonial.
Please share this interview with everyone you know who has insomnia and also who wants to have more joy and feel even keel in terms of their emotional state, definitely share it with them. Another cool benefit to this specific strain of probiotic that you need to ferment yourself to get enough of it so you can eat it to get it in you is it increases the body’s ability to produce collagen so that wrinkles go away. Even for vanity’s sake, it’s worth thinking about because it’ll make you have better hair, skin, and nails. People are noticing all kinds of positive results.
I love this concept. The whole interview today is about this concept that there’s a pharmacy that we could tap into in our gut that we could prescribe ourselves specific strains of probiotics. These are healthy bacteria that live in our gut. Prescribe ourselves specific ones that have specific outcomes. It’s already well established. I’ve had dozens of interviews about this. You can go to learntruehealth.com and use the search function to find all my interviews about gut health. The doctors I’ve had on who talk about gut-brain access, that there’s a direct correlation with what goes on in your gut.
There are about four to six pounds. Think about you have a little chihuahua-sized animal that lives in your gut and it’s made up of thousands of different strains of probiotics. You want to have the good kind and you want to make sure you mitigate the bad kind. They actually digest our food for us. They make nutrients for us by digesting the food that we absorb. They make chemicals for us that affect our brain, affect our chemistry, and affect our hormones. It’s amazing. This is just scratching the surface. It’s so cool. We’re on the cutting edge.
Dr. William Davis shares that information today. That was the one thing that I wanted to share with you. The next thing I wanted to share with you is I’ve done some recent interviews which I’ll be publishing soon about some pretty amazing stuff like how to increase nitric oxide in the body which has just a host of amazing health benefits. I’ve been pouring through all these studies and what I’m seeing is thermal therapy, using the Sunlighten Sauna, the reason why I say Sunlighten Sauna specifically is the Sunlighten Sauna has near, mid, and far-infrared. It goes into the different depths of your tissue and it binds to receptors.
Now I had a cardiologist on, Dr. Joel Kahn, and he talks about this that in our cells, we have receptors for hormones, we have receptors for nutrients like let’s say calcium, and glucose, right? Insulin being like hormones, we have receptors for those things. We also have receptors for light. That these infrared lights, the spectrum affects our cells. There’s one specific protein that is triggered by heat and this protein is called TRPV1.
This protein when triggered by heat—I believe it’s over 41 degrees Celsius is what I read—then helps the body to turn pre-muscular cells into muscle cells. They’re seeing that for the elderly, it helps to lower the chances of wasting away. It increases muscle, continuing to have more muscles so the muscles don’t waste away. It plays a huge role in helping with cardiovascular health to the point where this one study I read showed that they’re now doing therapy with people who are in cardiac failure. They’re really far gone in terms of their cardiac disease and heart disease, and that using heat therapy actually helps to increase nitric oxide in the body which supports the endothelial function of the cardiovascular system.
It reduces the oxidative stress of the cardiovascular system that supports the autonomic nervous system. They’re seeing that there are so many things. It also helps balance blood pressure. They’re seeing so many benefits to using heat therapy for cardiovascular health. Well, I was looking into this specific protein, the TRPV1, because there’s also a role that plays in breaking down and helping the body break down fat and in burning fat as fuel. Everyone who wants to be healthy wants to make sure we have healthy levels of fat. Brown fat is linked to better health and better health outcomes and burns off excess fat.
What we’re seeing is, when you’re in a sauna, yes it increases the body’s heat, your core temperature, and thus you’re burning off calories. They say about an average of 500 calories. Obviously, it depends on the person and how long they stay there and how hot it is. They also see now the reason why being in a sauna helps people lose fat is that it is creating these specific proteins, it is binding to these receptors. When it was explained to me, it was like, imagine a fat cell has these triglycerides that are built inside the cell and then they’re too big to get out. You have to tell the triglyceride inside the cell to break down. Kind of like a sectional couch, you can’t take your sectional sofa out the front door until you break it down into its parts.
Using the Sunlighten Sauna therapy is one of those ways to trigger to create that cascade effect to the body that triggers the fat cell to break it down so that it can leave the fat cell so that the triglyceride can break down to leave the fat cell, which I found fascinating. There are all these health benefits that I keep reading as I’m pouring through this information, but just the fact that sauna therapy increases nitric oxide in the body, in my next episode you will be learning more about nitric oxide and how the amazing benefits of it.
Everyone says inflammation is the root of all. At the very core of all diseases, there’s inflammation. Then people say, actually lactic acid is the root. No, lactic acid and inflammation are the result of the root cause and the root. We go deeper than that when the body cannot make enough of the nitric oxide that causes inflammation, that causes lactic acid, that causes all these cascades of negative outcomes that we see. When we’re looking at the common factor between everyone with disease and we’re going well, everyone with disease has more lactic acid and has more inflammation. Therefore, those are bad things we need to manage. Those are results of not enough nitric oxide in the body. My next interview is going to be about that.
How cool was it that the Sunlighten Sauna increases nitric oxide production which is linked to longevity by the way and not having enough of it is linked to early death. Also, so many health benefits of looking better and feeling better. What I want to say about Sunlighten is I’ve had mine for a few years. I absolutely love it. I’ve gotten so many health benefits from it. I am always in touch with the owner of the company there. They offer a great discount for listeners. Please give them a call. If you have any questions, they’re fantastic. They can help you out, give you the literature, give you the science. Also make sure you mention the Learn True Health podcast with Ashley James because they will give you a fantastic discount, including free shipping. If you ever have any questions about it or anything at all, you can also contact me at email@example.com and I would love to help.
I’m so excited for you to hear today’s interview because what Dr. William Davis shares today has changed my life. It’s now April and when I did that experiment with the probiotic that he recommended, that was near the end of February. All of March, even in the midst of the chaos of my move, we moved in March, I did not have any of those emotional overwhelm that I had before. I was able to navigate just by introducing this probiotic. You know what I said to my friend, I said that I’m on an antidepressant. She of course looked at me with big eyes. I said no, you don’t understand, not a pharmaceutical. This stuff that Dr. William Davis shares today, I said to her, this feels like I’m on an antidepressant. I feel amazing. I’m going through a very chaotic move and yet it’s not affecting me, it’s like the stress is gone.
That’s why I’m so excited for you today because imagine if the whole world was able to get their body to the point where they’re just feeling so calm and happy, and how much we could accomplish instead of feeling overwhelming stress. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you care about. Continue to please share, this episode is going to change lives I just know it. Come into the Learn True Health Facebook group because I’d love to hear your experience as you also experiment and play around with the things that Dr. William Davis shares today.
[00:17:12] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 476. I am so excited for today’s guest, we have back on the show with Dr. William Davis. Dr. Davis, you were on the Learn True Health podcast back in episode 167 which was eons ago but I have to tell you that you had a profound impact on my life and my husband’s life back in, this was like back in 2011, 2012, somewhere around there.
[00:17:48] Dr. William Davis: It was like the 19th century, wasn’t it?
[00:17:55] Ashley James: Yes, the dinosaurs roaming the earth. We went gluten-free. Actually, we cut out barley, wheat, rye, and oats. Oats contain gliadin, which is a protein similar to gluten. Some people react to it, some people don’t. We were just like, let’s just throw them all out anyway and we noticed a profound difference. I love sharing the information that you shared in your book, Wheat Belly, was so eye-opening for us. It really helped us solidify our decision to eliminate barley, wheat, rye, and oats.
Then what happened was amazing, my husband and I lost so much water weight. In one month actually, I lost 25 pounds of water weight and both of us had our wedding rings flying off our hands. I’d like to go to point, oh, the remote is over there, I’d point my hand in that direction and my rings would go flying across the living room. We had our rings custom fitted. We waited about six months because I thought this might be temporary because women are more in tune with the water weight of their body than men possibly. I was like, well, this might be the time of the month and by the next time of the month, it won’t be like this.
Six months go by and we’re still not eating barley, wheat, rye, and oats. The 25 pounds of water weight is still off of me and I can’t believe it. I couldn’t push a finger into my skin and then have an indent, it wasn’t like that. It was just overall inflammation. Then six months later we went and got our rings resized. That’s what we found out, I went down one and a half ring sizes. My husband went down two whole ring sizes.
Then I was able to overcome a lot of other health issues. I mean, the diet was a major factor and also nutrition. I brought in specific very high-quality supplements and I tweaked my diet, but I was able to reverse type 2 diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue. I no longer have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Every doctor I talked to was like, you can’t reverse that. Watch me and look at my labs, they’re like, oh my gosh, I love showing to doctors my labs. They don’t believe it. It’s like, these are two different people.
I reversed infertility, all these great big things, but really the big thing was eliminating barley, wheat, rye, and oats. I have had so many friends say, oh, I tried that. I was gluten-free for two weeks, and I didn’t notice a difference. I’m not allergic to gluten. I definitely want to get into that.
You have a new book out, which I’m really excited about, Super Gut: A Four-Week Plan to Reprogram Your Microbiome, Restore Health, and Lose Weight. I love that you have a deep dive into supporting this microbiome. It’s like six pounds of bacteria in our gut that we can actually use to heal our whole body. We talked about this that your book has very actionable steps that people can take to restore their health. I’m really looking forward to you teaching us that today. Welcome back to the show.
[00:21:10] Dr. William Davis: Thanks, Ashley. Thanks for the invitation. Glad to be back.
[00:21:13] Ashley James: Absolutely. Fill us in. What happened in the last four or five years since you were on the show with us?
[00:21:20] Dr. William Davis: Well, as you experienced, the Whole Wheat Belly lifestyle really can change people’s lives if they get it right. As you see, a lot of people say things like, I went gluten-free. Meaning they may have cut back on wheat and unrelated grains, but then turn to gluten-free garbage, which is awful. They make that mistake. Those gluten-free processed foods are just horrible for your health. It shocks me that that industry continues to grow and they fill store shelves with something that’s far worse than sugar.
If people get it right, they do experience as you have. By the way, reversing polycystic ovary syndrome is a huge advantage in health. As you see, the 15% of ladies who have it shouldn’t have it. Doctors say there’s really nothing we can do except give you diabetes medications, give you insulin, give you anti-hypertensive drugs, and then go through procedures for fertility, which is ridiculous. As you experience, it is readily reversed back to normal, including the hormonal distortions just by shifting your diet and maybe addressing a handful of nutrients that are lacking in modern life.
People are doing this and experience as you have dramatic life-changing improvements in health, weight, et cetera. But I also saw this, people say things like, I lost 73 pounds, but I have another 40 to go and I’m stuck. Or my joint pain from my rheumatoid arthritis is better, but I’m not off all the drugs yet. In other words, people were having successes but not 100% all the way back to perfect health, so I asked what is missing.
Now in the basic program, even back then, I was advocating adding a high potency multispecies, probiotic, fermented foods, and prebiotic fibers. But even those efforts to address the microbiome were insufficient for many people. I continued to dig and look for answers in the microbiome. I was shocked at the kind of things you can uncover in the microbiome. It led to an explosion and actionable solutions. Things you can do to take back control over their health.
[00:23:34] Ashley James: As you’re looking at the microbiome, what was the biggest, the first aha moment that really shocked you that made you go, oh my gosh, I have to dive into this deeper?
[00:23:44] Dr. William Davis: It was a series of things that I stumbled on was a series of very elegant research studies from MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, conducted between 2013 and 2017. This cancer group was looking at a microbe lactobacillus reuteri named after the German microbiologist who discovered this microbe in breast milk in 1962. They were looking at this microbe because they were looking into how it prevented colon cancer. It has very potent anti-cancer effects.
They gave it to mice and they noticed something unusual. They noticed that within a few days of getting lactobacillus reuteri, these mice developed what they described as rich luxuriant fur. They decided to explore it and they found all sorts of unexpected phenomena. They found, for instance, that healing was remarkably accelerated. If you inflicted a wound, it healed in half the time. Hair grew faster and thicker. They found that skin thickness increased dramatically because there’s an explosion of collagen in the dermis, the dermal layer of skin.
There was one study, they did a very elegant series of studies. They compared two groups of mice both fed a really crappy diet, a fast food diet, essentially. White flour, sugar, hydrogenated oils, fried foods, et cetera. One group just got the diet, they got fat, old, lost their hair, stopped playing with each other, stopped mating. They got old, fat, and died. The other group was fed the crappy diet also but given reuteri. These mice stayed slender, had thick and luxurious fur, played with each other, mated, and stayed young until they died. When that would get really interesting. They even made some other interesting observations.
There’s a restoration of youthful immune response in old mice. There’s a dramatic restoration of youthful testosterone in male mice. There’s an increase in growth hormone. But the pivotal finding, the real central finding in all these studies, was that all those effects came because reuteri that colonizes the entire length of the GI tract, by the way, not just the colon, sends a signal to the brain to release oxytocin. This group worked out all the details. If you cut the vagus nerve, the whole effect is turned off. It’s so-called gut-brain access via the vagus nerve. The reuteri sends a signal to the brain, the hypothalamus, to release oxytocin and there’s a 300% increase in oxytocin.
I found that really interesting even though the group said, isn’t that interesting? Do with it what you may. I got a hold of the same microbe that they used in these studies. It was available as a commercial product from Sweden. The company is called BioGaia and the product is called Gastrous. The problem is, these tablets are made for infants, and they were targeted for reducing infantile colic, regurgitation and diarrhea after antibiotics. The tablets had very low counts of microbes, I would challenge that they’re even enough for a baby. They had such low numbers, I made yogurt out of that, but not yogurt in the conventional sense. I made yogurt in a very different way. I fermented for a long, long time, 36 hours, not the usual four hours or 12 hours that some people use at home. I want as many microbes as possible.
We performed flow cytometry on the yogurt and we’re getting around 250-260 billion bacteria per half cup serving. We increased the number of reuteri by a thousandfold over what was contained in the tablets. Then I want to see if we could mimic these effects in humans. Me and thousands of other people, including my entire neighborhood, are eating this yogurt. We all start to see all the same stuff.
People got that boost in oxytocin and said things like, I like my family better. They don’t annoy me as much. I like my spouse better. I like my coworkers better. I understand other people’s points of view more readily. My skin is smoother, I’m losing my wrinkles. I heal faster. My sleep is deeper with vivid dreams. I’m no longer hungry, my appetite has been turned off completely. I’ve regained youthful muscle and strength. I have an increase in libido. I’m having erotic dreams like I used to have as a teenager or in my 20s.
Increased muscle, increased libido, thicker hair, smoother skin. Ashley, this one microbe turns the clock back 10 or 20 years. That’s just one microbe but it became clear. It was an illustration, Ashley, just how potent it could be to restore this one microbe, which by the way, almost all of us have lost. When Gerhard Reuter was exploring reuteri in mother’s breast milk and stool, he found it in almost everybody. In the indigenous populations on this planet who have been studied for this, they all have reuteri. If you look at chipmunks, squirrels, dogs, and raccoons, they all have reuteri. Modern people have lost it. Very few of us have it anymore because it’s very susceptible to many things like the antibiotic ampicillin. If you took ampicillin for your urinary tract infection or upper respiratory infection, you’ve likely lost your reuteri. We restore this ubiquitous microbe and spectacular things happen.
[00:29:40] Ashley James: I’m just imagining how many women are breastfeeding diligently thinking that they’re supplying their baby with this and they’re not, because at some point they had a UTI infection and they lost it forever. It’s not something that’s in our food supply that we can get back once it’s gone.
[00:30:10] Dr. William Davis: No, it’s not in the food. Not to say there aren’t wonderful microbes in fermented foods. You eat, say some kimchi, which is my favorite fermented food of all. By the way, people in South Korea have among the lowest incidences of cardiovascular disease in the world, far less than we do. There are probably a lot of factors but I think a major factor is their enthusiastic consumption of fermented foods like kimchi. Kimchi’s got wonderful microbes. It’s got something called leuconostoc mesenteroides and pediococcus pentosaceus. These are really beneficial microbes, but we can get species like lactobacillus reuteri, we actually have to get it specifically.
Now, one of the things that I think we’re in the process of figuring out is we have to pay attention. When you play with microbes, you have to pay attention to strain. Not just species but strain. To illustrate, you have E. coli, I have got E. coli, your listeners had E. coli in their colons. What if you ate romaine lettuce tainted by cow manure from the Central Valley of California? Well, you could die of that E. coli. Same species, E. coli, different strain. The strains that we use from the gastric tablets are two strains. It’s 17938 and 6475. I have seven other strains now of reuteri, they are in my refrigerator. I’ve made yogurt with all of them. I’ve experienced the same effect or greater with these other strains.
Now, we have a mouse study lined up. We’re going to compare five strains and see if any of them are better at provoking oxytocin than the others. That’s going to get underway in just a few weeks. We’ll be smarter. What I want to do at some point is say, Ashley, this is the strain you want to use. It’s the best at generating this effect. But right now, we can’t say that, so just to be sure, we stick to the Gastrous stains.
Let me tell you an embarrassing story. We get a boost in oxytocin from reuteri. Ashley, I think it’s safe to say, the restoration of reuteri makes us better human beings. Now, I did something crazy. I got another strain of reuteri from a microbiologist friend. He’s a master at generating super-duper high counts of unique strains. He was actually about half an hour from my house at a place called BioSource, his name is Suresh. He gave me some of his reuteri strains. It was super-duper high potency. I made yogurt out of it. Tastes the same, nothing different.
I had it that night and then I went to sleep. During sleep, I had this incredibly vivid dream. Really embarrassing, Ashley, but I will tell you anyway. I dreamt this imaginary woman came to me and I could see her in vivid detail. I could see her hair color, her eye color, and her facial features. She introduced me first and last names, which I have never had happened in a dream before. I felt overwhelming love and affection for this imaginary woman. When I woke up, the odd thing was that overwhelming love and affection continued for this imaginary person for many hours into the day. It was intoxicating. I hadn’t had that feeling for a real person in years.
I’ve not been able to recreate that feeling, but I think if we can recreate it, we can almost turn this on and off. It also makes me wonder, Ashley, if modern humans have lost reuteri and thereby the capacity to enjoy very high levels of oxytocin. Is the intensity of love and affection today less than it was 60, 100, or 10,000 years ago? Tough but I believe it might have been.
[00:34:11] Ashley James: Just think of maybe are there other groups of people that had higher levels of it naturally because their lifestyle didn’t degrade it? For example, in the history of the First Nations people in North America, what they taught in schools is so manipulated from the truth. When you actually dive into it, you find that most of the tribes were at peace with each other. They traded with each other. There were tribes up in the northern regions of the United States that had conch shells because they traded all the way down from the Mexico area. They trade routes. There was a lot of peace. There’s a lot of prosperity. There is vibrance, right? Then when they teach us that they were all savages, they’re all killing each other. That’s what they taught me in school.
Then I go and actually find out that it’s highly manipulated, the history that they teach. They had so much beauty in their cultures, of course, some war with each other but there’s more peace than war. There’s more togetherness, trading, and helping each other. I just wonder if cultures were more in touch with herbal medicine and nature if they had higher levels of these strains versus cultures that maybe were drinking alcohol and messing around with substances that would disrupt the microbiome.
[00:36:12] Dr. William Davis: I think we can only speculate. It will be tough to prove. I got the oxytocin levels, the blood levels of three primitive indigenous populations. I got unpublished data from a researcher in California who went to New Guinea and very bravely got the blood of some very—these are people who just two generations ago were cannibals who were eating other humans. He got the blood from these people and measured oxytocin.
I have also the data from the Somali, another indigenous population, and from the Bodango people in the Republic of the Congo. These are all people who have not been exposed to antibiotics and are not exposed to glyphosate, the herbicide. Do not get herbicide and pesticide residues in their food. Don’t take statin drugs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They have essentially a stone age microbiome and thereby presumptively higher oxytocin dose.
Unfortunately, the methods to measure oxytocin are so wildly different that it’s almost impossible to compare their levels to modern levels. Different methods, different tests, and platforms. I have the data, but I can’t say that they had higher oxytocin. I wanted to prove that primitive people with reuteri have higher levels of oxytocin. Unfortunately, this kind of a mess of data surrounding oxytocin prevents us from doing that. We’ll likely never know unless we have a time machine and go back in time, draw blood, and run those tests using modern methods.
[00:37:50] Ashley James: There are thousands and thousands of different bacterial strains, healthy helpful bacterial strains that we can have in our gut. You’ve isolated one and played around with one and found that your healing room time, your collagen, and people are getting younger. People are getting more feeling wonderful in their bodies and connecting with other people. That alone, yes, I think that you’ve sold everyone. Everyone’s like, okay, sign me up. That’s just one. Now, you talk about making yogurt. Can I take the same stuff and go make some fermented food with it? Just add it to the brine, add it to the saltwater and ferment some cabbage and get the same result, or do you find that we have to make yogurt and can it be a plant-based yogurt?
[00:38:40] Dr. William Davis: It doesn’t have to be dairy and it doesn’t have to be yogurt. It could be coconut milk. It could be veggies. What I don’t know Ashley is the number of microbes you obtain from that. If you were to ferment let’s say some eggplant and cabbage, the reuteri will compete with the microbes that are on the surface of the vegetable like say Leoconostoc. I can’t say that you get the same kind of numbers. That’s a work in progress. We’ll probably quantify that. That requires DNA analysis. Flow cytometry is a quick and dirty way to count microbes. When you have different microbes, several of them to tell them apart, you have to do DNA analysis to tell them apart and count them. We have not done that, but you can indeed do that.
You know what, you can gauge this by the effect. Personally, for instance, I go from terrible insomnia, terrible for years, decades taking horse doses of melatonin just to get a good night’s sleep. Now whereas I used to watch TV or read books at two or three o’clock in the morning. Now I sleep straight through nine hours of sleep.
By the way, those of us who wear actigraphy graphic devices like an Apple Watch, a Fitbit, or an aura ring, see that REM sleep, the deep restorative phase of sleep that helps you maintain good mental health is extended by about 20%. That’s another thing that needs to be formally documented with AEG, not just an active graphic device. I know I get a very deep sleep with vivid, colorful dreams. I know if I take a microbe that’s not working or I’m not getting enough microbes, I’ll revert back to being an insomniac. I have my own little built-in gauge. If your listeners do this, you try to ferment something else, and you lose the effect, then you know that the microbe count might not be enough.
One thing you’ll find in the world of the microbiome that’s not well explored is what’s called dose-response. The drug people, as much as I despise that industry, those people are very good at dose-response dies. They have a new drug, they’re going to test all variations in dose 0.25 milligrams, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.5, 5.0, 10, 15, 25, 50. They have deep pockets.
In the microbiome world, we don’t have deep pockets like that. We do have a human study where we are going to take a stab at dose-response, 10 billion and 50 billion with a strain of reuteri. My gut’s sense, forgive the pun, it takes probably 50 billion more microbes to generate an effect. What I don’t know is, let’s say you fermented sauerkraut with reuteri, will you get sufficient numbers of reuteri when it competes with other species? That I don’t know. But you know what, this is fun, it’s benign, it’s very low cost. In fact, you save money.
One of the things I advocate is you can spend a ton of money on these fancy commercial probiotics, which by the way have some real problems. Nonetheless, you can buy a probiotic. Pay a lot of money for it. You can ferment foods with it. It cuts back on your need to buy it again. If you make the yogurt, for instance, you don’t make future batches from tablets of reuteri, you make it from a little bit as a prior batch. That’s how I have my entire neighborhood making reuteri yogurt. I give them a little bit of the yogurt and they make their yogurt from that prior batch.
[00:42:18] Ashley James: Yes, right. Maybe you could clarify, I think a lot of people thought if you take a probiotic, it’s like planting a seed in a garden. Then you don’t have to keep planting seeds every day. Right? Whatever you planted is going to grow and then reproduce its own seeds and then keep growing. The idea is, if you take a probiotic, wouldn’t that one course of probiotics populate the gut and now the reuteri is living in your gut and that’s it. It’s over with. You do not have to eat anymore. Or do you have to constantly eat it because it doesn’t reproduce in the gut?
[00:42:57] Dr. William Davis: You raise a fundamental question, Ashley. That is how come if mom gave you a microbe, you’d likely have it for decades, if not an entire lifetime. If you take it as a probiotic or yogurt, you’ll have it for a few days, maybe weeks, and then it dies. Why? Well, it points toward all the inadequacies of the current understanding of commercial probiotics. The commercial probiotic is when nothing more than a slapdash, half-hazard collection of microbes just put together with no rhyme or reason. That’s the current crop.
The probiotic of the future will have other factors built-in. For one, they must specify strain for the reasons we talked about. If you don’t specify strain, you have no idea what you have. For instance, there’s a strain of lactobacillus rhamnosus, that GG strain that has very good evidence for abbreviating post-antibiotic diarrhea. If you take lactobacillus rhamnosus non-GG strain, it doesn’t have that effect. You need to know the strain. That’s one issue.
Another issue is microbes are just like people. We don’t live in isolation all by ourselves. We have partners, families, neighborhoods, and communities. Bacteria are the same way. They have guilds or consortia and they work together. Almost no probiotic preparation factors in that phenomenon. The only product I know of that does that is one out of Colorado called BiotiQuest’s Sugar Shift. I have no relation to the people who developed it.
My friends Martha Carlin and Dr. Raul Cano, a microbiologist with 40 years of academic experience. They formulated this because this group of microbes work together and generate bigger effects. They call it Sugar Shift because it reduces blood sugar quite substantially, by the way. Most other probiotics do not incorporate that phenomenon. Another deficiency of modern probiotics is they fail to include keystone species. These are foundational species that support other species like plankton in the ocean. Without plankton, you don’t have whales or jellyfish. It’s foundational or keystone.
We need to have restored keystone species. Reuteri is a keystone species. There are others like lactobacillus gasseri, faecalibacterium prausnitzii is another, don’t memorize these of course. When you buy a commercial probiotic, many of them lack. In their defense, a lot of this is a work in evolution. But the bottom line here is a probiotic is probably one of the least important things you can do to restore the microbiome. Among the most important is to include fermented foods. Bring back fermented foods, just like your great-grandmother did.
Kimchi, kombucha, kefirs, yogurts, fermented veggies, fermented meats, all those things, you get these wonderful microbes. The curious thing is the microbes you get from fermented foods like leuconostoc mesenteroides do not actually take up residence for very long. By some odd twist, just having those guys restored allows healthy microbes to re-emerge. It’s not quite clear how that works but this is very interesting data out of Stanford.
The Sonnenburgs, Eric and Justin, husband and wife microbiology team published a very important study that showed that fermented foods hands down are the most important thing that you can reincorporate into the modern diet. That is something that most people forgot about. In fact, most modern people think that fermented foods are rotten. They’ll often throw away something that ferments. We need to add those things back and that’s a really big advantage for the restoration of rebuilding a microbiome.
[00:47:06] Ashley James: I love it. What about prebiotic foods? Fibers that are non-wheat, there are some indigestible fibers that we don’t necessarily eat because we’re going to digest it but it feeds the microbiome. It just enriches it. How important is making sure that we eat prebiotic food?
[00:47:33] Dr. William Davis: Very important, Ashley. As you suggested, including sources of prebiotic fibers. If you and I were primitive, indigenous populations, you wouldn’t go to a grocery store, of course. You would dig in the dirt and look for roots and tubers. That’s where you get the majority of your prebiotic fibers. You would also kill animals, and as disgusting as modern people find it, in addition to eating the brain, heart, tongue, and pancreas, we would also eat the intestines and stomach, and sometimes do that raw.
That is the real version of prebiotic fibers and probiotics. Modern people cannot stomach those kinds of things so we have to compensate for it. I say all of that because sometimes things we turn to get our prebiotic fibers seem a little odd. Like a raw white potato is filled with prebiotic fibers. It seems a little odd because we’re not used to that. We’re trying to recreate what indigenous populations did by digging in the dirt. Raw white potatoes, inulin powder is an easy convenient way to get it.
Legumes, white beans, black beans, kidney beans, peas, chickpeas, hummus, root vegetables, dandelion greens. There’s a long list of these things and they’re very, very important. The problem that people encounter though is modern people have so massively disrupted their microbiome in the form of either dysbiosis that is unhealthy microbes in the colon or worse, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO, where all 30 feet of the GI tract are filled with unhealthy mostly stool microbes that they say things like, I can’t eat beans because when I do, I have explosive diarrhea, panic attacks, bloating, and other effects.
There’s nothing wrong with the beans or other foods you’re intolerant to and that could be, by the way nightshades, FODMAPs containing foods, histamine foods. There’s nothing wrong with the food. There’s something wrong with your microbiome. These are modern phenomena. People say things like, I had the testing, I can’t eat these 42 foods. There’s nothing wrong with the food, it’s your microbiome. People have to get beyond this idea that there’s something wrong with the food. It is something wrong with you, the microbiome.
[00:49:55] Ashley James: Right. It’s fascinating that our microbiome actually helps us digest our food and turns it into chemicals that we absorb. Without the microbiome, we would not survive. It’s so important, but like you pointed out, it also plays a major role in our mood. Often we sort of live life letting our mood guide us. They woke up on the wrong side of the bed. People make decisions most of the time, not logically, but most of the time from their emotions. They’re letting their gut run them, right?
[00:50:29] Dr. William Davis: Exactly, I’m always impressed just how much our internal dialogues—the things we tell ourselves, conversations we have in our heads—are colored by our microbes. A really good illustration of this is when you try to undo all these bad things. Let’s say you have all these stool microbes like E. coli, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, and Proteus, and all these are filling your 30 feet of GI tract. Well, you do something to kill them. It could be an antibiotic, it could be an herbal antibiotic. It could be something I called SIBO yogurt. We make yogurt that I think is proven to be effective in eradicating SIBO.
You kill these microbes and when they die, they shed their breakdown products, some of which get into your bloodstream and people call it die off but the real name is called endotoxemia. People will say things like this as they are in the process of killing microbes. They say, I’m having terrible panic attacks. I’m having dark thoughts and nightmares. People are chasing me, I’m falling off a cliff. My heart is racing. I’m having a low-grade fever. I ache all over.
That’s a vivid illustration of the kinds of things that happen when unhealthy microbes die off. Outside of that situation of die off, just having microbes living in your GI tract—these microbes don’t live for hours, they do not live for decades. If you had trillions of microbes occupying 30 feet of your GI tract, and they live and die in rapid succession, they shed their breakdown products, some of it gets in your bloodstream, that’s endotoxemia. Even when you’re not trying to kill them, some of it gets into your bloodstream.
That’s the thing that colors your internal dialogue and your mood. There’s a very interesting but disturbing set of studies from Germany where they took people who are non-depressed, normal people, they took that endotoxin to break down prompts and bacteria and injected it into these normal people. Which is really scary because if you miscalculate the dose, you can kill somebody quite easily. They somehow got into the review board. An injected bacterial endotoxin into these people, within three hours were profoundly depressed and had all the hallmarks of depression by MRI. It’s just one illustration of the potent effect that microbes have on your internal dialogue and mood.
[00:53:10] Ashley James: That is scary. What about someone who puts on an antibiotic? Does that have a similar effect? Does endotoxemia occur when we go on antibiotics?
[00:53:23] Dr. William Davis: It can. It depends on the antibiotic, where it was targeted towards. But yes, people do get quite sick taking antibiotics. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the die off effect from the disease you’re treating. If you’re treating pneumonia, you’re already sick, feeling awful, and having a fever. The die off effect just makes you feel a little worse. This is a well-established phenomenon. That’s known for about a century. It’s not just unique to these efforts in the microbiome. It is known to occur with virtually any infection where you’re killing off microbes.
It is an illustration of the power of microbes and their breakdown products that color human mood and our internal dialogues. It makes you wonder, hate has always been part of the world. Humans are a violent species. As you pointed out, has it gotten worse? Did indigenous populations actually enjoy a lot more peace than we give them credit for? Part of that at least do the microbiome, such as loss of reuteri and thereby oxytocin, the hormone of love, affection, and understanding of other people’s points of view. We can only speculate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is somehow we prove it to be true.
[00:54:41] Ashley James: You are a cardiologist. I wonder from that filter, from that viewpoint, have you seen that restoring the microbiome positively affects heart health?
[00:55:01] Dr. William Davis: I think so. That’s an area where the microbiome science has simply not been explored sufficiently. It’s my prediction that the microbiome plays a very important role in coronary disease. That is heart attacks and those diseases of the heart’s arteries. I think it plays a big role in cardiomyopathies, heart muscle diseases, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and other heart rhythm disorders. I predict that managing the microbiome will become a major—the problem with this of course, Ashley, is that practicing physicians, including my immediate colleagues and cardiologists, are typically 20 years behind in the science.
I still have colleagues say to me, there’s no such thing as SIBO, which is ridiculous, of course. There are thousands of published research studies on SIBO. They say things like, we know that probiotics don’t do anything. Well, we’ve got some criticisms of probiotics, but to say that they don’t do anything is completely nonsense. That’s the nature of things that the science has marched way ahead and the practicing physician is way behind. That’s why I think it’s so important for what you’re doing, what I’m trying to do, and that is broadcast these messages so that your listeners can take the reins. Yes, and their doctor will say, Ashley, did you consult doctor Google again? Right?
[00:56:23] Ashley James: I would fire that doctor and hire a more informed one. That’s what I will do.
[00:56:28] Dr. William Davis: That’s what you have to do. Take the reins yourself. That’s one of the great things about the microbiome. If you can tolerate a little bit of digging and understanding, it’s not that difficult. People have astounding control over their health if given a little bit of direction. The reuteri yogurt and other yogurts. I should tell you about the SIBO yogurt. This problem of SIBO, that is 30 feet of microbes, largely stool microbes that have ascended up into the small bowel.
I used to think this was uncommon or rare until something came out called the AIRE device made by a company in Dublin, Ireland. Invented by a Ph.D. engineer named Dr. Angus Short. He made this device because he saw his girlfriend, now wife, struggle with her irritable bowel syndrome when she was told to go on a low FODMAPs diet. He saw a low fiber low sugar diet. He saw how difficult that was for her and when she did get exposed, how she’d have bloating, diarrhea, and other effects. He invents this device for her that measures hydrogen gas in the breath because bacteria produce hydrogen gas but humans do not. You can use it to map out where microbes are. He commercialized this device a few years ago thinking it was just a device for people with IBS and FODMAPs intolerance.
I got a hold of it and I called him up and I said, Angus, this is far bigger than you think. This is a device that maps out where microbes are in the GI tract and helps people navigate all food intolerances. FODMAPs, nightshade, histamine-containing foods, sorbitol, fructose, fruit, legumes, nuts, all that stuff. He now knows that this is a far more important device than ever thought. I had thousands of people testing their breath now for hydrogen gas. Ashley, what shocked me was it’s everywhere. People are testing positive left and right.
It’s the uncommon person who tests negative. My crude estimation is that at least a very conservatively estimated, at least 100 million Americans have SIBO. I think that’s a dramatic underestimation. It’s gotten a whole bunch worse just the last few years. People say things like, this is too complicated. It’s too much to worry about. It is scaring me. It’s very unwise to ignore this because if you have SIBO, which is true for a lot of people—at least one in three—over time it leads to autoimmune diseases, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, colon cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders. In other words, it leads to a whole host of diseases. Of course the doctor is more than happy to dispense all kinds of fancy drugs including biologics for many thousands of dollars per month.
[00:59:40] Ashley James: Just thinking about what led us here? I mean, antibiotic use is on the rise, right? Glyphosates in our foods, just one of the thousands of chemicals in our food. Glyphosate, although was first designed as a chelator, is now known back, I think, 2010 or 2012, they published that it’s also an antibiotic. Glyphosates, which is in the Roundup. Which is in so much of our food. Even if you buy organic at home, if you go out to a restaurant to eat something, you’re eating glyphosate.
That is basically antibiotics in your food. There are chemicals in our food that are harming our microbiome, then there’s the diet itself. I heard somewhere that eating high fat and when I say high fat, I mean a highly processed oil, standard American diet like eating french fries, like eating canola oils, right? This very high unhealthy fat diet, just go out and eat at restaurants basically. That oil itself suffocates the good microbiome. It makes it like an anaerobic environment. I’m just exploring, just in my mind, I’m exploring all the factors that we have in this modern era that are killing the good bacteria.
[01:01:26] Dr. William Davis: You know, Ashley, I could devote an entire episode of your podcast just talking about that because you’re making an essential point. We’re drowning in the factors that disrupt the microbiome. You’re right, antibiotics. Most of us by age 40 have already taken 30 courses of antibiotics. For every thousand children, over 1,300 prescriptions for antibiotics are written every year. That’s just antibiotics. You making an essential point with the glyphosate. Yes, an herbicide but also a potent antibiotic. Other herbicides, pesticides, a linoleic acid-rich diet that is a diet that includes lots of vegetable oils, corn oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil does disrupt the microbiome.
We have to be careful here. I love talking to a microbiologist. I’m not of course a microbiologist but I talk to a lot of microbiologists. I love talking to them because they have such great insights into microbes. The problem with microbiologists is they are microbiologists. They don’t understand nutrition. I mentioned that because you’ll see in a lot of the studies, they say, we gave our mice a high-fat diet just like unhealthy Americans.
They’ve subscribed to this ridiculous and outdated notion that we should all be low fat, which of course is absurd. The low-fat mantra has damaged so many billions of people’s health and lives and it’s a big driver of obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics we now have, so we have got to be careful. You’re right that the linoleic acid omega 6-rich oils do contribute to the disruption of the microbiome.
On the other hand, it’s omega 3, the EPA DHA, not so much the linoleic acid that has microbiome protective effects. One of the things that the omega 3 fatty acids do is activate an enzyme that lines the intestinal wall called intestinal outland phosphatase. One of the effects of that enzyme is to deactivate that endotoxin that microbes release and tries to get into your bloodstream. Even good old fish oil has beneficial effects on the microbiome.
[01:03:44] Ashley James: I love it. I love all these tidbits. Let’s talk more about your book because I’m sure I want to go make the SIBO yogurt. We’re going to make it out of coconut milk or something. I really want to make that. My husband has had mild SIBO. We did that test, eating a certain diet, then you blow into the little tubes and you send it off to the lab.
I also wonder about small intestinal fungal overgrowth, which the doctor who coined that and the first person who ever published studies on it, I had him on the show. He says it’s a man-made illness because without antibiotics and all the things we’ve done to disrupt—basically take healthy food and turn it into junk food, turn it into processed food, and all the chemicals we now eat. Mostly it’s the overuse of antibiotics. He sees that fungal overgrowth is now taking effect in the small intestines. He had a wealth of data to support this and he was criticized heavily by his peers.
It’s just funny that we can have a mountain of evidence. It’s like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. We can have a mountain of evidence, but when we challenge people’s belief systems, especially someone who has had more education around their profession, challenging that education sometimes leads to a lot of resistance. We have to remember to keep our minds open enough that our brains could fall out. Just think critically. Don’t take everything at face value. Question everything, but keep your mind so open.
What if you could cure your insomnia and depression because you changed what you ate? So many doctors out there will say that’s impossible, take this prescription. Yet here we have this book, Super Gut by Dr. William Davis. He’s showing us that we can do simple, small, actionable steps each day, and we could cure lifelong insomnia. We can look younger. We can have more love in our life. We can start to reverse major health issues and get off medications like diabetes.
For SIBO, it causes so much discomfort. Like you said, it can lead to colon cancer, it can lead to all these other issues, that it causes distension. I have a friend who has such a bad SIBO that she only eats meat. She’s so careful. She can’t even use spices. She can’t put onion on something. Any form of fiber and she is so sick. She gets a migraine. She gets bloated and she’s so sick that the only thing she can do is use a small amount of meat each day. She is becoming skinnier and skinnier in a very unhealthy way. She’s always in pain.
I can’t wait to give her your book. I am going to cry. I’m so excited for her because I know her case is extreme. It was years and years leading up to it. For those who notice that they have gut issues, they have digestion issues, and eliminating one food after another and after another. It is going to get to the point where it’s like, what can you eat? Whereas when we heal the gut and that we have a strong healthy microbiome, the microbiome is working with us, the healthy microbes are working with us to help digest our food, and assimilate our food, then we won’t have those issues anymore. The SIBO yogurt is that in your book?
[01:07:41] Dr. William Davis: It is. I came to it by just sheer logic, just reasoning this out. Because when you think about it, if you have SIBO that is 30 feet of trillions of microbes, if you take a commercial probiotic off the shelf, can it get rid of your SIBO? No, it might reduce bloating and diarrhea a little bit, but it really wants to get rid of these misplaced bacteria in the upper GI tract. That’s why people use things like Rifaximin, the prescription antibiotics, and some of the herbal antibiotic regimens that have some proven efficacy like the good the bad, and the FC biocides regimen that I discussed in the book. That we use for a couple of years successfully.
But I asked some different questions. I asked, what if we chose bacterial species that colonize the upper GI tract? Because that’s where SIBO occurs. What if we chose species that produced what are called bacteriocins? These are natural antibiotics effective against this species of SIBO.
I chose a strain of Lactobacillus gasseri. Gasseri colonizes the upper GI tract and produces up to seven bacteriocins. It was a bacteriocin powerhouse. I chose those strains of reuteri that also colonize the upper GI tract and produce up to four bacteriocins and a strain of bacillus coagulans. We co-ferment them as yogurt. It doesn’t have yogurt, but in this case, I use yogurt. Extended fermentation to achieve very high bacterial counts and we consume half a cup per day. Ashley, so far, this is only about 30 people but 90% have converted to hydrogen gas negative by the AIRE device.
So far, it’s holding up. We have several clinical trials in the works. We’ll probably do that one down the road, not as yogurt but we’ll have to encapsulate microbes to control the dose. We’ll probably look at that formally and see if this holds true, but so far I think it’s working. The downside is you have to eat it for about four weeks. It’s a little slower than antibiotics. There is a die off phenomenon upfront. You do get the little bloating, anxiety, and those light effects, but Ashley, it’s just yogurt. It’s such a nice way to approach it.
[01:10:11] Ashley James: Instead of having to go through the FODMAPs diet, that is infinitely easier than getting rid of SIBO traditionally.
[01:10:20] Dr. William Davis: Right. Now, one thing we’ve not done is test how well this works in non-dairy fermentation that I just don’t know. I believe you can do quite well though. We’ve had a number of people do this well with coconut milk, canned coconut milk. The only difference is when you ferment canned coconut milk, there are a few additional steps you have to add because coconut milk likes to separate into fat. You don’t want to get this big layer of fat. You have to add some guar gum. We preheat. We don’t preheat dairy, that’s an unnecessary step. They do that in conventional yogurt making because they start with skim milk or low-fat milk. I start with organic half and half, 18% fat. For all the problems that dairy may have, the least problem or no problem is the dairy fat or fat is fine.
This notion of low-fat nonfat dairy is ridiculous. I start with organic half and half 18% fat. You can also start with organic coconut milk. You’ll just have to add a few additional steps like adding a little bit of guar gum and then we also blend it with a blender until it thickens up. All of these additional steps discourage separation in the final product.
[01:11:37] Ashley James: This is so interesting. I’ve made plant-based yogurt before and I used whatever I thought was a healthy probiotic. It turned out well. I’m excited to play with your system and what’s in your book. Your book is Super Gut: A Four-Week Plan, so let’s talk about this. It is a four-week plan just to reprogram your microbiome to restore health and lose weight. Give us a glimpse into what it looks like for the next four weeks. We’re all going to get your book and then we’re going to do it for four weeks. How much time does this take? What kind of fun experiments are we going to be cooking up in the kitchen? Give us a layout of what it looks like for the next four weeks.
[01:12:26] Dr. William Davis: If we spend the first week, I liken this, Ashley, to a backyard vegetable garden. Let’s pretend it’s May or June and you’re going to layout a 10×10 plot. How do you do that? Well, you lay out your plot, then you pick out the stones and the twigs, and then you plant seeds. Then you want to fertilize it for the growing season. After a couple of months, you’ve got a whole bunch of eggplant, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, and zucchini. The same kind of thing happens in your microbiome. We have to prepare the soil. It’s done the first week of preparing the soil means undoing all the things that screw up your microbiome such as getting filtered water, and choosing organic foods over conventional foods wherever possible to minimize your exposure to herbicides and pesticides.
Working to get off medications like statin drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs. This might take longer than a week but at least you have a whole week to try to reorganize your life and clean up your microbiome. We also approach diet. I’m guilty of reintroducing some of the Wheat Belly-type concepts just because as you saw, even though the concepts in Wheat Belly did not take the microbiome 100% of the way back, it was a great start because one of the things that happen with brain consumption is huge intestinal inflammation. You experienced it, you lost all that water weight.
[01:13:56] Ashley James: Yeah, the inflammation weight.
[01:13:59] Dr. William Davis: When you lose water weight, that is very important because it means you were retaining water because you were inflamed. Getting rid of all that inflammation, water is a huge step. We reintroduce the diet like we’re already doing the diet simpler for them. I also introduce nutrients that are largely lacking in modern life. Not because of the diet but because of the way we conduct our lives. We can’t drink from the river because it’s got sewage, pesticides, and herbicides. We have to filter our water. All water filtration removes all magnesium. We all begin with profound magnesium depletion. We’ve replaced that and that helps the microbiome as well as other aspects of your physiology.
We’ve replaced vitamin D because we don’t eat liver and most of us live indoors and wear clothes when we’re out in public, we replace the vitamin D. Iodine and omega 3 fatty acids, similar reasons, which we’re because we’re just not getting enough from our diets. One departure we have to talk about is people get all excited when they hear about the reuteri yogurt and how you turn the clock back 10 or 20 years, the infantis yogurt that we use in babies that has dramatic effects on their future development and IQ, or bacillus coagulants, how it helps athletes recover faster.
But the problem with that is those are really powerful strategies but they work much better if you don’t have SIBO or SIFO. Many people have to stop the program and then deal with their SIBO or SIFO. It’s not that difficult, but it means there’s a delay. You might not do it in four weeks because if you’re going to do the SIBO yogurt, that alone is about four weeks. If you do the candibactin regimen of herbal antibiotics, that takes a couple of weeks. If you don’t have SIBO or SIFO, that’s a lot simpler. Then you start talking about these fermented foods, including yogurt to get these outsized effects.
[01:16:07] Ashley James: That’s really exciting. It’s exciting that people will be in touch with their bodies. They’ll notice these changes. They’ll go, okay, I’ve got to stop and go and do the SIBO regimen and then come back. It empowers people. It gives them confidence. I’ve experienced this as well. So many of us, because we’re raised to believe that we wait to get sick and then go to the doctor and the doctor is on their pedestal that will heal us. Then they write a prescription and which most drugs don’t heal, they suppress. They manipulate the body, suppress, and they don’t actually help the body overcome and get healthy again. Because the body was out of balance because it was missing nutrients, mostly it’s our diet.
We got to bring and we got to correct the diet. We’ve got to make sure our diet includes the prebiotics and the probiotics, the fermented foods. Like you said, first correct the overgrowth if there’s an overgrowth in the small intestines. We’ve been raised to believe that we wait to get sick and then see the doctor. It’s so backward. This is sort of the mainstream idea of health is that we are helpless and the all-seeing, all-knowing doctor is going to help us.
That’s the perfect business model. It’s perfect PR perfect marketing for big pharma. It’s perfect, a lifelong customer, for doctors and big pharma. Then there are doctors like you who are like let’s get so healthy we don’t need to get sick all the time, go to the doctor, and get a prescription. Let’s get so healthy that we prevent getting sick.
[01:18:06] Dr. William Davis: You make such a crucial point that I agree completely. That is, we need to get away from this idea of treating diseases like type 2 diabetes. What are they doing for type 2 diabetes? One, the American Diabetes Association diet is absurd. It raises blood sugar and sustains diabetes, so they’re no help.
The doctor introduces drugs whether it’s insulin, Metformin, Byetta injections, or other drugs to reduce blood sugar. They don’t address the cause. What you’re advocating is we identify the root causes of these conditions. In the case of type 2 diabetes, let’s remove the foods that raise blood sugar and cause insulin resistance. Let’s address the nutrients that are largely lacking that also contribute to insulin resistance. Let’s address the microbiome that via endotoxemia contributes largely to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes goes away in the vast majority of people.
I was a diabetic 30 years ago. I’m no longer a diabetic on nothing except my nutrients and food. I have perfect blood sugar and perfect hemoglobin A1C. I’ve done this with many, many people, and there’s actually published evidence to this effect, but unfortunately, it doesn’t drive revenues. While you and I know this, your listeners know this, my colleagues don’t give a crap because there’s no pot of gold involved.
[01:19:40] Ashley James: This is a really scary part of the medical system. You as the patient need to be incredibly informed and we have to pull our heads out of the sand. We cannot blindly take our bodies to a doctor that is just going to put us on the conveyor belt of allopathic medicine. We need to take charge. That can seem daunting and overwhelming, especially if we have a large family. I know as a mom, I’m responsible for feeding everyone every day, every meal, and it gets a little overwhelming and gets a little old.
If we can sort of step back and just take these baby steps, and I love that your program, let’s just make this yogurt and eat it for the next two weeks, that’s doable. What else are some doable steps that we can take? Nothing overwhelming, but something that really gives us some bang for our buck.
[01:20:45] Dr. William Davis: I have a really cool one. It’s not in the book, but it’s consistent with the program. It is on my website. I had my Wheat Belly blog for years. It had 30 million visits and I converted it over to drdavisinfinitehealth.com. I had so many websites and social media. I combined a lot of it into one website, this drdavisinfinitehealth.com. One of the things I’ve been advocating is that there’s a fungus, not a bacteria but a fungus called saccharomyces boulardii. It’s a cousin of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae that’s used to ferment wine and beer.
Saccharomyces boulardii is better adapted to the human body. It doesn’t take up long-term residence. It acts as a kind of a traffic cop in your microbiome that when you get exposed to this microbe, it does all kinds of cool stuff. It encourages growth, a proliferation of healthy bacterial species. It discourages unhealthy species including fungi like candida albicans, candida glabrata and malassezia. If you take it during a course of antibiotics, it minimizes the disruption of your microbiome because it’s not susceptible to antibiotics. It’s a fungus. We take this microbe and you could buy it in the US at Walgreens, Walmart, or Target as a product called florastor. Florastor has different names in other countries but in the US it is called florastor.
As often happens, they sell it in low numbers. What we do is take a capsule of the Florastor and empty it into some juice. Apple cider is a really good one. I recently made mango passion fruit juice. You have just had to make sure there are no preservatives in it. Look for potassium sorbate or those kinds of things. Don’t buy those, you want one with no preservatives because preservatives inhibit the microbe. Get a natural juice, it’s going to have a lot of sugar, but fermentation by saccharomyces boulardii reduces the sugar because it eats the sugar.
Take a capsule, empty it into any volume—a quarter, a gallon, whatever you want. Cap it lightly, not tightly, because you’re going to see within 24 hours as it sits on your kitchen counter it will be bubbling with carbon dioxide. Let it go for 48, not more than 72 hours refrigerated. You’re going to have sparkling juice. It’s effervescent, it’s delicious. You’re getting a wallop of saccharomyces boulardii that helps bring your bacterial and fungal microbiome back in order.
This is a great adjunct to the other things you’re doing like SIBO yogurt, the candibactin regimen, or whatever else you’re doing to reorder your microbiome. It’s a big advantage. Just be sure not to cap it tight because you’ll have an explosion because of so much carbon dioxide. It tastes like apple soda or whatever kind of juice you ferment. It’s effervescent like soda.
[01:23:59] Ashley James: It sounds like making water kefir where the bacteria eats the sugar and poops out the bubbles.
[01:24:02] Dr. William Davis: Exactly, yes.
[01:24:05] Ashley James: I love it. I have a dear friend who has lifelong constipation. Her parents had her on courses of antibiotics as a baby. I just think this is such a common problem. She has tried everything. Everything that I’ve given her because I have lots of health information. I’m like, all right, try this healing gut soup. Now, try this herb and try just everything and she says it’ll work for a bit. Then the second she gets off it, it’s a high-fiber vegetable soup. It’s really nice when she takes it but the moment she stops taking it, she’ll go back to incredible constipation. Nothing seems to last. Nothing seems to stick. Every supplement she’s tried, every diet change she’s tried, and it doesn’t have any lasting effect. She’s tried on over-the-counter probiotics. She has to be on high doses of oral magnesium just to keep her moving.
What would you say to someone who has lifelong constipation that has never been able to get it under control? I really feel like it’s a microbiome issue because she knows she was on antibiotics her entire childhood and it totally destroyed her gut. All the conventional ways of restoring the microbiome haven’t worked for her. What would you say for those who have very chronic constipation?
[01:25:32] Dr. William Davis: First, Ashley, I’m very impressed she knows you and she knows about magnesium because magnesium is a really big advantage. It abbreviates the so-called transit time. The amount of time it takes for food to pass through your GI tract. She’s already done that. That’s a great thing to do.
Another thing is called obstipation. It’s the most severe form of constipation that seems to respond to nothing. Getting rid of wheat and grains is important because of the gliadin-derived opioids. Of course, opioids are very constipating. Anybody who’s taking oxycontin or other opioids knows he gets terrible constipation from opioids. The gliadin protein in wheat and the related proteins and other grains become opioids and they are likewise extremely constipating for many people.
I had a woman way back when Wheat Belly first came out and she said, you’re not going to believe what happened to me. I moved my bowels once every three weeks. My abdomen is so distended. I’ve had numerous endoscopies and colonoscopies and all they tell me is to take laxatives, enemas, and stool softeners and nothing works. I went wheat and grain-free and I lost 30 pounds in a week.
For the first time in her lifetime, she’s moving her bowels every day. Then her family left the house for a day and she’s hungry for lunch. She says, what the heck, I’m going to make a sandwich. She had a sandwich with bread and it all came back. It took her about another week to get off of it and have her bowel movements returned. I’ve seen things like that. That’s called obstipation. The gliadin-derived opioids can be very potent.
The other thing here is likely she has, of course, methanogen overgrowth. That is an overgrowth of not bacteria and not fungi but these peculiar creatures called archaea. These are really fascinating creatures because they’re also called extremophiles. They live in the boiling water geysers in Yellowstone National Park. They live at the bottom of the ocean with extreme weight upon them. They survive in all kinds of extreme environments, the Dead Sea with extreme salinity and the human GI tract. No one knows how they got there or why they’re there, we are filled with methanogens. When they overgrow and possibly ascend into the upper GI tract, the telltale sign is unremitting constipation.
The newest AIRE device that came out literally two weeks ago, the old AIRE device only measured hydrogen gas. The newest device measures hydrogen gas and methane. She can do that and prove to herself whether she has methanogen overgrowth or she can do a stool analysis and see if she has an excess of so-called methanogens.
These are microbes like methanobrevibacters smithii and some others. One of the problems we have with methanogen overgrowth, it’s not quite clear how we best manage it. There’s some evidence that the Rifaximin antibiotic has an effect. There is some data and we’ve seen some successes with the Candibactin Herbal antibiotic regimen. There may be some other things, but they’re very poorly documented.
We’re not quite clear on exactly what to do with methanogen overgrowth, though I personally would consider the newest aire device and consider the Candibactin regimen. If you have methanogen growth, you’d likely have other disruptions in the microbiome. All the other things we do like saccharomyces boulardii sparkling cider, maybe the SIBO yogurt, all those kinds of things probably have value as well.
[01:29:26] Ashley James: The candibactin regimen is that in your book?
[01:29:30] Dr. William Davis: It is. It’s from metagenics. It’s Candibactin-AR and Candibactin-BR. I was very skeptical about these herbal antibiotics because when you combine things, when you say things like this, let’s throw in a little oil of oregano because it’s effective against E. Coli. Let’s throw a little this herb because it’s effective against this other microbe. You really can’t concoct antibiotics that way. There has to be formal evidence and these were concocted very sloppily. I was very skeptical.
Then there was a study from Johns Hopkins that compared incredibly Rifaximin to conventional antibiotics with two herbal antibiotic regimens. The ones I’ve mentioned, the Candibactin regimen and the dysbiocide regimen from Biotics Research. Lo and behold, the herbal antibiotic regimens outperformed the Rifaximin and the Rifaximin failures, of which there are many, responded to the herbal antibiotics. Lo and behold, some evidence that there are herbal antibiotics. Now, there are lots of other herbal antibiotics but they have no evidence for efficacy.
I have no reason to take them on faith. Those two regimens have worked for us. But lately, I’ve been inching towards this idea that you know what, if you have SIBO, not methanogen overgrowth, try the SIBO yogurt. There is one small study, I believe it was done in Italy looking at reuteri that suppress methanogens. But I’m skeptical, I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think that’s really going to play out in the real world. I wouldn’t advocate the reuteri alone for methanogen overgrowth and constipation.
[01:31:13] Ashley James: It sounds like a pretty stubborn microbe to get rid of like it lives in the Dead Sea and lives in geysers. It sounds like it’s going to take a bit more to move it out of the body.
[01:31:30] Dr. William Davis: Here’s an oddity. If we look at the microbiomes of indigenous populations like the ones that have been studied in Africa, South America, and elsewhere. They have methanogens more than we do. In other words, if we use them as a comparator to see what a healthy microbiome should look like, this is kind of puzzling, they have more methanogens than we do. I think what’s happening here—by the way, beyond constipation, methanogen overgrowth has not yet been blamed for any human disease. It’s not quite clear what these things are doing. I think what that means when you look at the Hodza, for instance like Maasai, Yanomami, or the people in the jungles of New Guinea, they have all these methanogens.
What the real story here is with the presence of methanogens per se may not be harmful. It’s the company it keeps in the rest of the microbiome. In other words, maybe those indigenous populations define with methanogens because they have more spirochaetes that we don’t have any of. They have more Prevotella and they don’t have any by sort of bacteria. They have a very different microbiome. Maybe it’s the setting that occurs. In other words, it’s not quite clear what we do about methanogen overgrowth but for the sake of your poor friend’s constipation, it’s still worth considering, like the candibactin regimen. I think in the future, we’re going to have to rethink this whole situation within the methanogens.
[01:33:09] Ashley James: Fascinating. I love it. I’m really excited to apply these to my life and get my friends and the whole neighborhood. I’m very excited to play with it. I’m very excited for my listeners to get your book, Super Gut: A Four-Week Plan to Reprogram Your Microbiome, Restore Health, and Lose Weight.
Lastly, let’s talk about this idea of losing weight simply by focusing on supporting gut health. We touched on how by removing grains, you can lose the water weight. How even just with the Lactobacillus reuteri improves the oxytocin and you feel so good and you’re not hungry so it curbs the appetite. Beyond those things, how does your book help us lose weight by creating a healthy microbiome?
[01:34:09] Dr. William Davis: Back to your reuteri and oxytocin, you may recall one of the effects of the boost in oxytocin is the so-called anorexigenic effect. It really turns off your appetite. If you go wheat and grain-free, you’ve eliminated gliadin-derived opioid peptides. They’re not only constipating, but they’re also very potent appetite stimulants. That’s why you see people, for instance, have a big bowl of pasta, they’re filled to bursting, yet they’re still hungry. That’s the gliadin-derived opioid peptide appetite-stimulating effect.
Wheat and grain-free, you’re given tremendous control over your appetite. Cultivate reuteri, get a boost in oxytocin and you become profoundly in control. Food is great of course, but you are no longer tempted. Hunger feels completely different. It’s no longer that gnawing desperate feeling. I personally feel hunger as slight restlessness after I haven’t eaten for maybe six to eight hours. It’s a very different experience. The oxytocin effect is a big, big advantage.
Then there are microbes like Lactobacillus gasseri that have been shown in two studies to reduce waist circumference quite significantly. If you did an MRI or CAT scan of your abdomen and measure the cross-sectional area of visceral inflammatory fat, you would see dramatic reductions in visceral fat. It’s not quite clear why that is, but I think it’s because gasseri is so good at reducing endotoxemia. We call that endotoxemia. The breakdown products of microbes that enter the bloodstream is a big contributor to insulin resistance.
If we took somebody who is slender and active and measured their fasting insulin, it’s likely something two micro units per liter. If we took somebody who was pre-diabetic, had a big waist, a lot of visceral fat, and we measured their fasting insulin, it’s probably 30, 70, 100 microunits per liter. In other words, it’s not 20% worse, it’s manyfold worse. When you have high insulin, it causes weight gain and prevents weight loss. One of the big drivers of that high insulin is endotoxemia. If we get microbe gasseri that reduces endotoxemia, your body is allowed to reduce insulin and thereby release weight. Those are the two biggest strategies that I’m aware of.
[01:36:41] Ashley James: I love it. I just had another thought for cardiovascular health. Is there a microbiome fix for high blood pressure?
[01:36:53] Dr. William Davis: What we do with high blood pressure is we start with the diet, which alone has huge effects because we lose visceral fat. Insulin drops, we don’t have insulin resistance, and that releases fluid as you experience. That alone is huge. We add the nutrients largely lacking in modern light, vitamin D, magnesium, omega 3, fatty acids, and iodine. Those four things all together have a huge impact on further reducing insulin resistance and reducing blood pressure.
Just the magnesium alone reduces blood pressure. Then taking the steps to restore a healthy microbiome, thereby reducing inflammation and endotoxemia also reduces blood pressure. Getting fermented foods reduces blood pressure. Those microbes, let’s say kimchi or fermented sauerkraut, like Leuconostoc Mesenteroides and Pediococcus they reduce blood pressure. We’re not actually treating blood pressure, we’re addressing the factors that allow blood pressure to emerge in the first place, and almost people walk away with a blood pressure of like 106.
[01:38:07] Ashley James: That’s awesome. When we go to make our yogurts, like you’ve mentioned, the Lactobacillus gasseri, the reuteri, and all these other really great ones, can we take all of them and throw them in and make a concoction, or do they compete and we really should make individual batches with each one?
[01:38:26] Dr. William Davis: That’s a good question, Ashley. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve. You can do that, you can combine them, but it’s like your backyard garden. If all you have growing your gardener tomatoes, you’re going to have a ton of tomatoes. What if you grow tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and squash, you have fewer tomatoes. The same kind of things and it depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
If you’re a competitive athlete, you want to reduce the amount of muscle injury you have with extreme exertion. You should take Bacillus Coagulans, probably fermented by itself from natural effects. You want to get smoother skin, deeper sleep, and restore youthful muscle strength, that’s a reuteri effect, you probably want to ferment reuteri by itself. What if maybe you have somebody in their 20s who doesn’t really need to reverse age yet and would also like some better recovery, and maybe wants to have lower blood pressure and a smaller waist? Maybe we could co-ferment reuteri, gasseri, and bacillus coagulans. You can do that.
We make future batches of yogurt from a little bit of the prior batch. As you get further and further in subsequent batches, there can be shifts in relative numbers of different microbes. One of the things that happen with the SIBO yogurt is you’ll lose the reuteri probably by your 10th batch. That’s an instance where you want to re-inoculate or start from scratch again.
A lot of this is a work in progress, we have not done DNA analyses and all the different combinations. You can do this, you can combine microbes. This is very useful for younger people. All humans are supposed to have reuteri. What if you have a 10-year-old or an 18-year-old? They probably don’t want to superduper the high numbers were getting. They can co-ferment several microbes and still get reuteri replenished and get those other benefits as well.
[01:40:29] Ashley James: I love it. Does your book have a list of all these different ones that talk about each one of them like an encyclopedia, all the different microbes that we could be fermenting to repopulate to get specific outcomes?
[01:40:49] Dr. William Davis: Approach it like a menu at a restaurant. If you and I walk into a restaurant and the waitress hands us a menu, you don’t freak out and say, oh my God, I can’t order all these appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. We pick and choose the dishes we want. We do the same thing with the microbiome. Pick the microbes for the effect you want. If you want deeper sleep, greater libido, and smoother skin, let’s ferment the reuteri.
If you want a reduction in knee pain from arthritis, let’s ferment the bacillus coagulans. If you have a baby and you want that baby to sleep through the night, take longer naps, and have half as many bowels movements, thereby half as many diaper changes, have less asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune disease, have a higher IQ for a lifetime, and are less likely to become obese as adults. Let’s ferment Bifidobacterium infantis. You can pick and choose the microbe you want for the effect you want just like a restaurant.
[01:41:51] Ashley James: This is amazing, everything you listed. I’m really just imagining the listeners are just getting so excited to get your book, try it out, and start making this yogurt. You don’t have to eat bowls and bowls of it. You’re just having a few spoonfuls of this yogurt. Then the question that arises is, because there’s an acid on my stomach, doesn’t it kill all the bacteria anyway?
[01:42:16] Dr. William Davis: There’s a drop in numbers, but the microbes that were using largely survived stomach acid and bile. These microbes are fairly tolerant to the stomach. There are microbes that do indeed die, but the ones that we’re using are the ones that have been shown to be tolerant to those kinds of things. If you eat, for instance, 250 billion, maybe only 100 billion survived, but it’s sufficient to give you a big wallop of an effect.
By the way, the saccharomyces boulardii that we make those sparkling juices with, by the way, you don’t want to overdo those juices. They do still have some sugar. It cuts the fermentation process and cuts sugar by 50% or more. If anybody’s ever interested, you can get a hydrometer from your brewing. If you have a beer-making store they have these things called hydrometers. With just a few dollars, you can measure the sugar content of your juice so you can calculate how much sugar you’re getting. I suggest people drink no more than a quarter cup a couple of times three times a day so you’re not getting a bunch of sugar all at once.
[01:43:27] Ashley James: As we’re drinking it, is it making it into the intestines, is it making it to the colon?
[01:43:35] Dr. William Davis: The saccharomyces, in particular, are very tolerant. That’s a really big advantage. By the way, it’s also tolerant to alcohol. You can make an appletini and other martinis with it.
[01:43:50] Ashley James: Some of these are supposed to populate in the colon not in the small intestine, is that correct?
[01:43:55] Dr. William Davis: That is true. Unfortunately, some of the probiotic manufacturers have ignored this whole issue of SIBO which is a big miscalculation. They do things like double encapsulate their capsule so that it does not dissolve in the small bowel. I think that’s a real mistake because even if you don’t have SIBO, there are so many factors that are trying to make you have SIBO that it’s worth always having microbes in the small bowel to discourage E. Colis and Klebsiellas of the colon from ascending.
You’re just taking Ranitidine or Prozac for a few weeks is not to give you SIBO. Just having an all-you-can-eat vacation in Mexico where you drink too many margaritas over three days, that’s enough to give you SIBO. There are so many things conspiring to make those microbes rise in your small bowel that I think is worth having those release in the small bowel and not trying to keep them in the colon alone.
[01:44:55] Ashley James: Which makes the yogurt make so much sense.
[01:45:00] Dr. William Davis: Yes.
[01:45:01] Ashley James: I can talk to you all day. This is so fascinating. I’m really excited about your book. Of course the link to the book, Super Gut, is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast down the description, learntruehealth.com, and in whatever podcast directory you’re listening from right now. Dr. Davis, is there anything you’d like to share to wrap up today’s interview? Any homework? Any suggestions? Of course, we’re going to have the link to your website and everything you do. Also in the show notes that people can follow you and read your blog and continue to learn from you. Please, impart us with final words of wisdom.
[01:45:40] Dr. William Davis: As you know, Ashley, the lesson to pass on is that if you desire, if you want to, you have astounding power over your health. The last person you want to consult and how to become healthy is the doctor. The doctor has no idea. If you said, hey, doc, I’m interested in boosting my oxytocin by getting reuteri. I’m trying to make the sparkling apple cider so I get a big wallop of saccharomyces boulardii, what do you think about that?
You’re going to get glazed eyes, they’ll make fun of you, or say something like, hey, did you consult Dr. Google again? Sadly, people in healthcare have abdicated their responsibility because of making more money for their healthcare system. So important to emphasize that people have huge power.
Also, it’s important to know that what you’re doing is so crucial. People like you and me are no longer welcome on major media. We can’t get on TV. We don’t get interviewed by major magazines or newspapers because there’s too much money at stake from big pharma. Big pharma now funds so much of the media via direct consumer drug advertising and other means that people like you and me have missed on his health, nutrition can’t get in anymore. It means that podcasts, blogs, and social media are the ways we have to get these types of messages. It’s not coming from the doctors, it’s not coming from the media, we’ve got to get these messages out because they’re so powerful and they empower people.
[01:47:20] Ashley James: I am so thankful that you came on the show. Again, thank you so much for sharing this information. We really do need to empower ourselves. We really do need to educate ourselves and keep our minds so open that our brains would fall out. We just have to be willing to challenge the belief system we grew up in. We have to be willing to be the salmon.
I like to say this often on the show, if you want to be a statistic, do what everyone else is doing. One in three people has a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. I think it’s one in three women and one in two men. It’s ridiculous. There’s a 50% chance that you’re going to get cancer if you just do what everyone else is doing. My listeners on the show don’t. They love to be the salmon, swim upstream, be the black sheep, and choose to take charge of their health.
Sometimes that’s overwhelming. Just taking one step at a time, just one little thing that you can do today to improve your health and continue doing that. If you want to have diabetes, one to two people are diabetic or pre-diabetic, obesity, it’s so common now. Heart disease and cancer are the top killers, and of course, diabetes is a trifecta because diabetes causes heart disease. Then there’s dementia. There’s just a deterioration, a quick-aging, quick deterioration, dying younger and younger.
If you want that in your life maybe not now but in the future, then do what everyone else is doing. Go eat what everyone else is eating. Just go to your doctor and get put on older drugs he wants to put you on. Going with the flow leads to being a statistic. We have to look at the statistics of health in our country and realize that doing what everyone else is doing is going to give you that life. You have to go against the grain. You have to throw the grains out and listen to Dr. William Davis. What I love is Dr. Davis brings science-based, holistic, you in charge of your health healing medicine that is backed by studies, that is backed by science. We don’t need to wait to get sick. We can take actionable steps today.
Definitely get Dr. Davis’s book, I’m so excited about this, and start to take these actionable steps and then do it with your friends and family. It’s so easy to hand a spoonful of yogurt to your husband, wife, sister, or whatever. Just hey, try eating every day. Just a few spoonfuls a few times a day, and here, drink this little sparkling beverage in here. Eat some fun fermented food I made. It doesn’t take cups and cups or bowls and bowls of it. Just a spoonful at a time, little tweaks at a time we can completely take back our health.
I know everyone is really excited about introducing the reuteri and having a better sex life, feeling amazing on oxytocin, and having better collagen and twice as fast healing. That alone I think has sold all of us on buying your book, Super Gut. Of course, following you on your blog and continue to learn from you.
Thank you for everything you do. I’d love to have you back on the show when you have more information. I know you’re just constantly digging into the bleeding cutting edge of all the science coming out. Please, come back to the show when you have more to share.
[01:51:10] Dr. William Davis: I will Ashley, happily, anytime.
[01:51:11] Ashley James: Love it. Awesome. Thank you so much. This has been wonderful.
[01:51:15] Dr. William Davis: Thank you, Ashley. Keep up your great work.
[01:51:17] Ashley James: I hope you enjoy today’s interview with Dr. William Davis. Wasn’t that amazing? I bet you’re so excited to jump on probiotics, go experiment, and make some yourself. I am going to put the links to what he recommends in the show notes of today’s podcast. Wherever you’re listening from, just go to the notes below of this recording, the description. You can go to learntruehealth.com or from wherever you’re listening, just click on the podcast and you’ll see the notes in the description. I’ll make sure I put the links there for the probiotics that he recommends to culture. Also yogurt maker and other stuff like that. Make sure that’s there so you could immediately go and give it a try.
Come join the learn true Facebook group and let us know how it goes. Of course, I’ve already shared my testimonial at the beginning of the interview. I look forward to hearing yours as well, I’m very, very excited. Please, join Learn True Facebook group, come share your experience, give it a shot.
I’m all about experimenting and the kitchen is such a fun place to do some great fermenting, culture some great probiotics, do some health experiments, and just try it for yourself. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and I’m just really excited for the journey that you’re on. If you’re new to this podcast, welcome. Please join the Learn True Health Facebook groups so that you can ask questions and jump into the community.
I also recommend going to takeyoursupplements.com as they are amazing health coaches that help you through a naturopathic doctor-created program. Get on exactly what your body is craving, what your needs, and what your body’s missing, as well as helping you understand the nutrients that certain foods are hurting you, certain foods are helping you. They help you in that way to guide you. So if you’re looking for a bit more hand-holding, definitely want to check out takeyoursupplements.com as well.
Dive into the group, into the community because we’d love to see you there. You can even use the search function in the Facebook group to dive in and learn from so many amazing people from past conversations and start your own new conversation. Just throw some questions out there and it’s a very supportive group. I’m there every day helping people and I look forward to meeting you and seeing you there as well.