Overcoming MS 00:01
Welcome to Living Well with MS. This podcast comes to you from Overcoming MS, the world's leading multiple sclerosis healthy lifestyle charity, which helps people live a full and healthy life through the Overcoming MS program. We interview a range of experts and people with multiple sclerosis. Please remember, all opinions expressed are their own. If you enjoy the show, please leave a review. These are quick to do and really help us. And now here's your host, Geoff Allix.
Geoff Allix 00:33
Welcome to the latest edition of the Living Well with MS podcast. Joining me on this edition is Dr. David Bilstrom. Dr. Bilstrom, MD is the director of the International Autoimmune Institute and Bingham Memorial Center for Functional Medicine in Blackfoot, Idaho. He works closely with experts in a number of medical specialities to evaluate, diagnose and treat autoimmune diseases. So welcome, Dr. Bilstrom.
Dr. David Bilstrom 00:56
Thank you for having me.
Geoff Allix 00:59
So to start off with, could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work in autoimmunity?
Dr. David Bilstrom 01:04
Sure, so the small goal that we have is to change the way that autoimmune disease is dealt with worldwide, actually looking at the causes of autoimmune disease, and then trying to put the body in position to reverse the process. Well, first stop progression, of course, but then start to reverse the process, but also educate people on how they can prevent new autoimmune disease on top of maybe their first one. And we also know that the children of people with autoimmune disease are such a much high, higher likelihood of getting any autoimmune disease, not just one, the parent has really want to educate parents about how they can help their children not end up getting autoimmune disease as well.
Geoff Allix 01:48
So MS, like many autoimmune diseases are, technically they're incurable. There's no cure. But you're saying it's not necessarily a cure, but the diseases and the symptoms are reversible. So could you tell us a bit about that?
Dr. David Bilstrom 02:04
Yeah, I think one thing too, that's really important to note is truly, there's not like hundreds and hundreds of different auto immune diseases, there's really just one disease that can attack any body part. And this is why it's so easy if you get one autoimmune disease to get a second or third or fourth, but also, if a parent has an autoimmune disease the child could get is at a higher risk of every autoimmune disease. So like, for example, if a parent gets rheumatoid arthritis, that child is at a 5.4 times greater risk of getting type one diabetes. And we want to kind of educate people about what we know is why people get autoimmune disease where the immune system has become confused, starts making antibodies against our own body parts. But because we know why this happens nowadays, we're in a position to address why and not only rely on medications that tend to suppress the immune system, that kind of try to put a stop gap, a bandage on the on the progression, help with some of the symptoms, but by not really addressing the why it happened in the first place, people are much easier to keep progressing. Other health issues pop up on top of the autoimmune thing, so we're going to educate people on why it happens. And then how you might be able to get this thing to start moving backwards. With the ultimate goal, of course stopping progression, but also get it moving backwards, reverse the whole process. With the ultimate goal. If you get rid of the symptoms and you may not need medicine that suppresses the immune system long term, it might just be a bit of a stopgap measure.
Geoff Allix 03:32
And could you say a bit about how infections drive autoimmune diseases, including MS. And how is it specific infections, how we get rid of those infections?
Dr. David Bilstrom 03:44
Yeah, beautiful question. And so we now know that all chronic disease actually has infections as part of it, those infections that give obvious disease, and there's infections that give a chronic disease. So kind of the classic one that people hear a lot about, like Epstein Barr Virus, but as also herpes virus six, mycoplasma, Coxsackie virus, of course, the tick borne diseases, all these other ones. And so this is one part that gets missed by most people is there's an infection, but also makes a little challenging then to use the immunosuppression medicines, because by suppressing the immune system and make it challenging for your immune system to keep it quiet, and it tends to kind of build over time, thus making it easier to progress, the autoimmune disease. And so we always know it's there. Even if we don't know what kind it is, we know we got to get rid of it. So we use a broad spectrum antimicrobial, in every patient with chronic disease, and it's a real big part of reverse the entire process. Epstein Barr Virus is the most common one I think that people hear about when it comes to MS. But there are other ones and typically, if the immune system's gotten compromised enough, it's never just one infection that's gone in. There's at least two, 3, 4, 5. So you can actually check for these infections on blood tests. It's not a hard thing, any lab typically can run the test on the specific bugs that drive this stuff. And then we'd like to use a product out of Canada, called pH structured silver solution that can get rid of any infection no matter what kind of are where it's at. But also, I'm kind of a science geek. So take a deep dive into actually the water component of this product, where it's structured, which they call it the fourth phase of water. And this is actually able to get rid of inflammation and help damage tissue heal on top of the antimicrobial effect. And it's actually the bio physics of water molecules, knowing the biochemistry is the biophysics fascinating science. But this is a total game changer when it comes to reversing autoimmune diseases like MS.
Geoff Allix 05:52
And there's definitely a connection with vitamin D and MS because people with MS have low vitamin D, typically. And then there's there's been recently some research that said that actually taking a high dose vitamin D doesn't have much effect on people who've already got MS. It might, it might lower the chance of getting it but then, but there is certainly this connection, because we've all got vitamin or most of us are going to have low vitamin D levels. So can you tell us a bit about vitamin D receptors and how they become resistant to vitamin D?
Dr. David Bilstrom 06:24
Yeah, thank you. So, you know, it seems a little counterintuitive. It's like geez, Vitamin D is so important. But maybe science says just vitamin D doesn't help reverse it. You know, that seems a little counter intuitive, especially when you think there's studies out there to say, well, if a woman's vitamin D is above 50, during pregnancy, she's going to decrease the risk of her child ever getting MS by 50%. And you go like, wow, that's really cool. And it's not as hard maybe to prevent MS as you might think. So anything in the body that needs to tell cells what to do, there has to be a receptor on cells for that thing. So the thing can attach the receptor, tell the cell what to do, attach the receptor, get into the cell and tell us what to do. And so vitamin D, uber important when it comes to immune system stuff, such as preventing MS in pregnancy. Because cancer is the flip side of the same coin, that's autoimmune disease. If a woman's vitamin D is above 60, she's automatically decreased her risk of ever getting breast cancer by 82%. Kids that take vitamin D 2000, IU first year of life, will decrease the risk of ever getting type one diabetes by 90%. Beautiful study out in northern Finland, where they followed kids for 31 years. So vitamin D is uber important. The receptors for vitamin d have to be sensitive, they can't become resistant to vitamin D, people hear a lot about insulin resistance as a precursor of diabetes, where you may have a pancreas make an insulin, maybe it's even l making extra the insulin receptors in your cells that become resistant, it cannot attach and do the work. And it's almost like you don't even have insulin no matter how much you have. Well, it turns out a really big central mechanism also one that gets missed by a lot of people, is there's so many more vitamin D receptors in the gut, intestines than any other body part. And when that info came out, people go, Wow, vitamin D must be really important for the gut. Well, turns out these vitamin D receptors in the gut can become resistant to vitamin D. And this whole domino effect of terrible stuff happens. When you fix it. This whole domino effect of great stuff happens, including the original data was wow, this is exactly what you want to do to get rid of some of the toughest autoimmune disease. It's like the Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's disease, where you're attacking the gut. Because we say, Hey, if you can fix the gut, you're in a really good position to fix autoimmune disease because 80% of the immune system surrounds the gut. So whenever you see an immune system issue of what the heck's going on with the gut? So the How can you fix the gut when the autoimmune diseases actually attacking the gut? Right, you gotta break that vicious cycle. So this data goes, this is exactly what you want to do to get rid of those as well as recurring H. Pylori infections in the gut, your C. Diff infection of the gut. But they also said, Oh, my gosh, this looks like probably exactly what you want to do for about everything else. And sure enough, since 2018, all this data has come out about what happens when you fix this, including it's a nuclear weapon against diabetes and metabolic syndrome. You can use it to treat major depressive disorder, it actually changes personalities, people become more outgoing and more social. So that's a really huge impact on brain chemistry in general, and what you got to do, and then once again, the body is so smart when it comes to healing. It doesn't take as much as maybe some people think so what it takes is daily vitamin D, daily probiotic, and then daily use of something called butyrate. And even though a lot of people hear the first two and know those they may not hear butyrate but butyrate, ideally, is made by the good bacteria in our gut. It's called the short chain fatty acids and once again, the good bacteria makes serotonin for the Brain and GABA for the brain, melatonin for the brain and everything it also makes this short chain fatty acids and theater is a big one. And when you use this triad, you can fix the vitamin D receptor resistance. And this whole domino effect of great stuff happens, including the butyrate itself is getting so much scientific data last like 10 years, and actually prevents cancer five different ways. It actually treats cancer, five different ways. It is great for brain so brains are starting trying to recover from strokes, that helps the brain recover. It helps damaged brains heal, it just has an amazing impact on the system. And so that is a triad that really is a game changer also, when it comes to the autoimmune disease process reversal.
Geoff Allix 10:45
So you taking butyrate as a supplement, or is it?
Dr. David Bilstrom 10:48
Yeah, ideally, you want your good bacteria to make it. But when you're trying to recover it, it always kind of takes more to get good than the state good. So you want to learn extra. So there is one food source, only one food source of butyrate. And that's butter. And so this is why I think every culture in the world uses some kind of butter, whether it's cow's milk, butter, goat butter, yak milk, butter, everybody's vomit, because it's got, it's got butyrate. And it's a really big, huge one. So like, we see a ton of kids with autoimmune disease. And if they're too young to swallow capsules, let's say we may just say, well, starting eating a ton of butter. But in capsule form, it's even better because you get higher doses. I'm going to do a lecture in Algeria tomorrow morning about obesity. And they talk about wow, you know, this butyrate is uber great. And whether you get your gut to make it yourself, or you take it from the outside, either way, oh, my goodness, what a huge impact on the system as a whole.
Geoff Allix 11:41
So Overcoming MS does, we don't have dairy. So one of the things is to avoid dairy. Yeah. But you could still you could take the supplement, though, without taking.
Dr. David Bilstrom 11:52
So the problem is the is the food proteins? Yeah. So like the dairy proteins are like we'll say, we need you to be cow's milk, dairy, protein free butter's, okay, because it's 99.99%. Fat, not protein. Now, every once in a while, there's somebody who's so darn sensitive to dairy proteins, that they can't even tolerate butter. But then when you do this butyrate, you just isolating the butyrate. You don't even have to worry about the proteins?
Geoff Allix 12:23
And is this connected with leaky gut as well, when you're talking about the gut being so important?
Dr. David Bilstrom 12:28
Absolutely. And this is one thing that makes the brain a weak spot. So when you're talking about why somebody gets an autoimmune disease that attacks a certain body part, you always want to kind of ask the why is that my weak spot in my brain, not my joints, not my gut? Well, so leaky gut leads to a leaky brain. And so a leaky gut drives food sensitivities, but also leaky gut allows the toxins that are inside the gut, to leak into the bloodstream, including a really bad one called LPS lipopolysaccharides. But when the gut gets leaky, the blood brain barrier gets leaky. And these toxins like LPS, get into the brain and start making the brain a weak spot, including brain structures can even start shrinking. As part of this whole process, the brain is getting really hit, and it makes it the weak spot. And then when the immune system is confused enough, it says, Well, I'm going to start attacking a body part, where am I going? Well, let's go look for where the infections are. Let's go look for the weak spots, including those toxins and infections in the brain that makes that brain the spot that gets attacked. But you fix the leaky gut, you fix the leaky brain, the brain is no longer the weak spot, especially when you get rid of the infections. And this triad effects in vitamin D, probiotic, and butyrate as well as creating calm because stress always tries to create a leaky gut. And of course, you always want to avoid antibiotics because that is terrible for leaky gut. And this is where using the foundational triad, getting rid of infections, creating calm the body now vitamin D can actually do its work. And this is where I think the data is well the vitamin D is not helping and advanced MS well because everybody's got the vitamin D receptor resistance in the gut. So they're not getting the bang for the effort. Just like you have diabetes, I got tons of insulin. I'm not getting bang from my effort because I got insulin resistance
Overcoming MS 14:17
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Geoff Allix 14:34
And another thing that you mentioned I've seen is is estrogen so more but far more women than men get MS. And I know that from my local groups, there's a couple of men in the groups but there's far far more women. So is that an estrogen effect on MS because there's also a pregnancy affects other people when they're pregnant have that affects whether you have relapses so there's certainly something going on but is there an estrogen effect on autoimmune diseases?
Dr. David Bilstrom 15:04
Yeah, now it's not so much an estrogen effect. It's an estrogen dominance effect. So it's too much estrogen relative to progesterone. And they call this estrogen dominance. And so this estrogen dominance is a huge driver of health issues in women. I call it the most dangerous disease because you've actually looked at everything that's sort of associated with this. Too much estrogen relative to progesterone. It probably accounts for almost 90% of the reasons why women die. And so a lot of times it first starts showing up as hormonal menstrual issues. So it drives the bad flows the bad cramps, the premenstrual syndrome, ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, breast cysts, infertility, but because estrogen revs and progesterone calms, it also drives excessive worry, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep issues, insomnia. So you look at this, you're like, Oh, my goodness, this is like so much of chronic health issues in women. Now, unfortunately, when it comes to these hormonal menstrual things, usually the thing that often women are offered is I'm gonna give you birth control pills, but they're estrogen based. So now you're making the estrogen dominance, even worse, and really driving it the way you don't want it to go. So this is where this estrogen dominance is such a huge disrupter of the immune system. And so the immune system is an excellent example of how the body loves balance. You never want to be too high, too low blood pressure, blood sugar is always the sweet spot the middle where the immune system has beautiful setpoint right in the middle. But when you lose the setpoint in the middle, and the estrogen dominance is a huge driver of this people's immune system issues go up and down at the same time. So the overactive immune system issues are all the autoimmune diseases, including allergies, asthma, eczema, the underactive immune system issues are the infections. Now there can be infections that are obvious, like geez, I get every cold that comes around, urinary track infections, ear infections, and kid you know, all these kinds of infections. Bronchitis, pneumonia, I get COVID every time it comes around, but also cancer risk. And so this is why it's so important to reestablish the setpoint right in the middle the immune system, as part of getting rid of the autoimmune thing, getting rid of the infections and then never rear their ugly head again, the Epstein Barr Virus, for example, stays dormant the whole rest your life, but you're also getting rid of cancer risk. And so this estrogen dominance is a real big reason why they think 80% of people to get autoimmune disease are women. But it's also women with estrogen dominance pre menopausal we know not only are they driving towards autoimmune, MS. But women, ewith estrogen dominance bbefore, before menopause have a 5.4 times greater risk of breast cancer, before menopause, you know, not just twice the risk or three times a 5.4. But also a 10 times greater risk of malignant cancers the ones that metastasized their whole life. So this is uber important. Identifying what the hormonal menstrual rev vs. calm stuff is really before it gets to MS. That's a huge one, as far as reversing MS. And you can really see the power of this reversal, like you mentioned in women during pregnancy, because to maintain pregnancy, women have to make extra progesterone. So one thing that obstetricians might do for women that can't maintain pregnancy is to start giving them progesterone, kick up their progesterone level, so they can maintain a pregnancy, while the body's supposed to do that all by itself. But when we kick up progesterone production in your pregnancy, you're fixing this estrogen dominance. And this is where when one of the reasons why women can totally reverse their MS during pregnancy, you go, wow, that MS actually can be reversed. I can see it during pregnancy. Well, after the delivery, the hormones tend to go back to where they were originally. And if they weren't in such a great place originally, and you go back there you go, crud here comes at MS again. But you kind of look at that and go Well geez, you know, the body could get rid of it during a pregnancy kind of seems like it should be able to have a decent shot at getting rid of it when you address these other things outside of pregnancy.
Geoff Allix 19:03
And so you've talked about some things with childhood that you can drastically reduce and this something that one of the pillars of Overcoming MS such as you can reduce the risks on your children through things like supplementing, and as you're saying, you know, you can drastically reduce a lot of their autoimmune risks through supplementing and checking that the levels are correct for the children. But also, there's something that maybe that is is probably impossible to affect, which is adverse childhood events. So how does that affect it? It's quite common, actually, people find it with MS that that there is an adverse event which precedes their diagnosis that have an effect.
Dr. David Bilstrom 19:49
Yeah, so my wife is actually a psychotherapist and she's an expert on adverse childhood events, and every lecture that we do, whether it's reversing diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease, you name it, there's adverse childhood events like to drive these terrible chronic health issues. And so the adverse childhood events are things like divorce, separation, substance abuse within the household. incarceration, a parent gets thrown in jail, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, traumas of all kinds, and they tend to like to drive chronic health issues, including autoimmune disease. And the more of these that happen before the age of 19, the more likely you are to get these chronic health issues. Now, in a perfect world, we need to understand that these events drive chronic disease, and you want to actually address them such as with seeing counselors and stress management, ideally, before age 19. Because the real big central mechanism when we're really talking about any chronic health issue is epigenetics. We used to think our genes, our DNA in our cells, whatever we got, we got good bad otherwise from parents, grandparents were stuck with it. parent has MS. Well, I wish I could do some of the changes genes my child has. Well actually, it turns out, it's not what genes you have, it's which ones get turned on, and turned off. So it's epigenetics, the things that influence gene expression. So there's a lot of bad genes, every cell in our body like to drive chronic disease, we got to turn those guys off, as well as good genes that drive health, we got to turn those guys on. When people aren't feeling good, they get off the wrong way. And it's one reason why it's so easy to get so many different health issues going on at the same time, not just like the MS. But it's also I got some arthritis, I got some pooping issues, I got some sleep issues I got because all the genes are getting flipped the away. While these adverse childhood events are really big and flipping these guys the wrong way, is so vitally important to understand as part of prevention is if this happens. Let's fix it, let's start flipping the right way. Now there's counseling, you know, that flips things right away, but also kind of to your point, vitamin D flips genes the right way, fixing vitamin D receptors flips genes the right way. Butyrate that when we talked about that profound impact all over place, it has such a prominent profound impact. And it almost exclusively works through epigenetics. But also meditation works through epigenetics, acupuncture works through epigenetics. Now, in a perfect world, you'd like to flip people's genes the right way before age 19. Because if you can do that, you really set the system beautifully. Now, the other part is, if you can set optimize epigenetics before having a child, before conception, you're actually passing on cleaner genes, the next six to eight generations, you're making the next 6 to 8 generations healthier. But this is where you hear things like we live the traumas of past generations. Because if they got their genome flipped the wrong way, such as descendants of Holocaust survivors, descendants of the Dutch Hunger winter of 1944-1945, with starvation was rampant, they all have so many more health issues, because their genes got flipped the wrong way, and then all these subsequent generations are feeling that. So it's really important to flip the genes the right way to reverse MS is everything you do fix, everything you're doing is, is flipping genes the right way, like reversing MS, but really good to do that to your children and try to do your children before they can see their own children. And then the next six to eight generations are going to benefit from the effort that that person is put in.
Geoff Allix 23:22
So the one of the pillars of Overcoming MS is meditation, mindfulness, and that's, that's not just for us. It's also for our children as well, you think, make sure that they're going along with that.
Dr. David Bilstrom 23:37
It's a big one. Yeah.
Geoff Allix 23:40
And just a final point, do you have any tips to help people stick to this say this, one of the things that there's a pillar of Overcoming MS is that you do it for life? It's not just, it's not something you do, and it's a fix. You just you're gonna carry on with this for the rest of your life. So do you have any tips to help people stick to a lifestyle program?
Dr. David Bilstrom 24:00
Yeah, you know, I think the better you can get yourself feeling, you know, the more you're gonna go like, wow, this is really remarkable. I'm gonna hang in there. You know, if you if people are frustrated, they're not getting better. It's like, why even why even try, you know, but if you get really some some great reverse, and you feel so much better, like, wow, this really does help. And it's always good to make it easier to maintain those changes, I think and with the lifestyle stuff. So I think if people want, we have a free online email course that takes a deep dive once a week for seven weeks about all these different things that we're kind of getting out here is called medicalbilldetox.com. And so the first week is a deep dive into cortisol stress hormone main, creating calm, second week of these vitamin D receptor resistance issues the third week is infections, fourth week as food. And by getting at these real big central mechanisms, oftentimes the one that kind of get missed, you're really in a position to reverse what you got, including, yeah, I may be on a medicine, this present immune system, and I feel better because of it, but I still don't feel perfect, well, then you're gonna even get better. And maybe get you in a position where you feel comfortable coming off the medicine and staying good without it. But at least you feel better. And you're also kind of trying to with these deep dives, is maybe get the upside of the medicine for the MS without any of the downsides. Like the increased cancer risk, life threatening infection risks, new autoimmune risk. And then I think if you get really good, then you're gonna go, Hey, I'm going to continue to meditate, I'm going to continue to use nature to create calm, I'm going to try to eat healthy, I'm going to maintain my sleep hygiene. And it just makes it so much easier if you kind of see the benefit of your actions.
Geoff Allix 25:46
Okay with that I firstly, I'd like to encourage everyone to have a look at the show notes because there's links to your website, and they can get huge amounts more information than we could put onto this podcast. And finally, I just wanted to thank you very much for joining us today with Dr. David Billstrom.
Dr. David Bilstrom 26:05
Thank you, Geoff, so much. My pleasure.
Overcoming MS 26:09
Thank you for listening to this episode of Living Well with MS. Please check out this episode's show notes at overcomingms.org/podcast you'll find useful links and bonus information there. Have questions or ideas to share? Email us at email@example.com We'd love to hear from you.
Overcoming MS 26:36
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