Our bodily systems are more interconnected than most of us realize. Recognizing and working within this principle is where functional medicine differs from conventional medicine. Instead of treating health problems as separate conditions that need separate attention (and medication), functional medicine gets down to the root cause of health problems and empowers patients to use that as the starting point of their health journey. This time, Dr. Kevin Pecca is joined by Dr. Douglas Pucci, who is one of the country’s leading functional medicine practitioners. Dr. Pucci takes time to explain the links between our gut health, autoimmunity and the specific health problems that we experience. He also gives some informative insights on endotoxemia, COVID-19, hormonal imbalance, stress and more.
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Functional Medicine: Getting Down To The Root Cause Of Health Problems With Dr. Douglas Pucci
We have a phenomenal episode with a phenomenal doctor, Dr. Douglas Pucci. He is a functional medicine doctor in Oradell, New Jersey and has been in practice for many years. He is one of the top functional medicine practitioners in the country and has been helping his patients get down to the root cause of their health problems and offer a solution. On the show, we go over why most health problems can start in the gut, pharmaceutical drugs, autoimmune disease and natural ways to heal, blood testing, good stress, bad stress and so much more. I enjoyed this episode. Dr. Pucci is a wealth of knowledge on functional medicine and getting his patients better. I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did. Please welcome, Dr. Douglas Pucci.
We have a special guest, Dr. Douglas Pucci out of Oradell, New Jersey. He practices out of the Pucci Wellness Center and he is one of the leading functional medicine practitioners in the country. I'm excited to have him on the show. Dr. Pucci, how are you?
I'm great. I’m glad to be here with you.
Where are you from originally?
I'm born and raised in The Bronx, New York but my family moved down to New Jersey when I was about 13 or 14. I went to high school out here then I headed off to college up in Syracuse.
What made you pick the health and wellness route?
When I was in college, I went to play baseball. I had high hopes there and things where injuries and stuff didn't work out but I was in the pre-med program. I was thinking about med school, maybe even dental school but when I graduated college, I decided back then that I was someone to break from school. I wanted to get out in the business world like my buddies were doing and I did. I worked in the business world, which was tough back then, the market was bad but I had a job working in Germany for a little bit for a steel trading company.
How long were you out there?
I was there for about six months. It didn't work out so well because they didn't have any English-speaking people to train me. I was getting into the world of finance and had no background in it. The point is, they sent me back to the United States to take some courses here in International Trade and then I was going to be sent to Houston, Texas. They were a steel trading company in Düsseldorf, Germany but they were an Italian-based company and they were exporting steel from Brazil around the world. I was going to be sent to Houston, Texas to work in the Marine Insurance Office. At that point, I didn't want to do it. I end up working in retail for a little bit.
In total, about two years out of college and I knew that the corporate world was just not for me. I had a calling to be in the health field. I had a calling to help and service people. It's all these years later and I feel very strongly about it as I did back then. What I did was at that point, I had learned about chiropractic. I looked into chiropractic and fell in love with the philosophy vibrantly. Philosophy, simply put, it's that the body has an innate intelligence. If we can remove the interferences and give the body the right nutrition, the body has an opportunity to be well.
It’s a message that needs to be heard more loud and clear than ever.
When I first came out, managed care was taking over with insurances. The bottom line is as I got into the real world is the insurance company said, “If you want to get paid, you're going to be a back pain doctor.” I was like, “That's not what I signed up for with chiropractic. I resist a holistic approach to getting people well.” They're like, “No, you're going to be a back pain doctor.” You had to sign on to that, especially in the managed care world. Over the many years that I practiced like that, I learned all kinds of techniques and it was adjusted but I was always looking for something new or it's not always doing everything from heart adjusting techniques to soft tissue work to instrument adjusting.
I landed on Corin technique a bunch of years back, a variety of techniques. At some point though, I was not quite understanding of a couple of things, which is why was it that there were some people that were coming to me who were doing fabulously well? Other people did well but it was still not quite getting them over the hump and then it was always a handful of people that didn't respond well to the chiropractic adjustment and you expected them they were supposed to. I'm like, “Why was this not happening?” I kept digging for answers. The short of this long answer was I was also questioning why the person had to come in three days a week. Why weren't they able to get adjusted, walk out feeling pretty good, two days later back in and I'm addressing the same segment over and over again. Why were they not holding this correction? Something's missing here.
What happened was I started to go back to school. My first venue was into Functional Neurology. I started going through coursework and certification classes, Carrick Institute, different things and starting to learn about functional neurology. I was like, “Why are they not teaching this? Why is this not emphasized in chiropractic school?” I began to realize that many of these patients that I was missing out on are because the problem was higher up. The problem was the brain. Even though I was surprised, we learned about the subluxations and find the primary subluxation and it's not but you want them to many cases of subluxation was a symptom or a response to something higher up, which was the brain.
If we didn't start looking at the brain and trying to rebalance the hemispheres or to fire into the cerebellum, which was controlling structural issues that I wasn't getting ahead on the more traditional chiropractic. The interesting thing along that is they started to do a lot of work in functional neurology, I quickly learned that the brain is an incredibly energy-demanding organ. Of all the organs in the body, every system in the body, it's the brain that uses the most energy and it's very greedy. Many people had underlying metabolic problems. They had fibroid problems, blood sugar problems going on, dysbiosis in the gut. There were many other things that were compromising metabolic or energy to the brain and that if I wasn't addressing correcting those energy issues for the brain, that I couldn't make any inroads in the functional neurology world.
What I was learning, if I was applying functional neurology treatments, in some cases, that’s making the person worse. I learned it early on because I had a young girl who was fourteen, who was suffering from chronic migraine and couldn't get help anywhere, then she came to see me. At that point, I was still doing chiropractic but still doing some functional neurology. I took it through a couple of quick little neurological checks. That's very easy. It’s some quick little eye movements then she passed out. I was like, “What happened?” The answer was she was metabolically weak, adrenals were fatiguing. There was no energy reserve that she could not even tolerate a neurological check. I quickly learned at that point that I better get learned in the body systems and metabolic issues and all these things some hormones, the gut to everything. Back to school, I had to go. That was many years ago. I took a deep dive more into the functional medicine and functional neurology world about many years now. That's where I’m at.
I have such huge respect for anybody that's been trying to perfect their craft for more than ten years. You see everything, you go through some highs, some lows and you got to keep showing up, keep learning and you get phenomenal results but you got to also hang in there to get those results.
That's that Japanese term Kaizen.
What does that mean?
Kaizen is the constant and never-ending improvement. They use it in the business model from the Japanese industry but it's a philosophy of life. “I don't want to be the same doctor this year than I was last year. I want to be better.” I was on a webinar, trying to get new information on new changes in gut testing, all those kinds of things. I'm always learning something, I'm in a year-long immunological program as we speak. Research is changing. We were finding out things nowadays about autoimmune conditions that we didn't realize many years ago. The way that we have to approach it is a little bit different nowadays. If we were still back in doing things from many years ago, we're missing the boat the autoimmunity. You got to be up to date with the research.
That's one of the questions I wanted to ask you. Do you view autoimmunity as one big umbrella term? Do you treat it condition by the condition? How do you approach the autoimmune disorders in your practice?
Sadly, first of all, more people are being diagnosed and suffer from autoimmunity than cancer and heart disease combined. For the most part, it goes under the radar screen. There's not as much funding goes into that but yet even though maybe people don't die the way they do from heart disease. It can compromise somebody's life dramatically. At least in this country, the way that we look at it, it is looked at as separate conditions with separate diseases. If you get that, it was in multiple sclerosis, which is what autoimmunity, you see a neurologist and there are medications for that.
If you get diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis autoimmunity, you go see your rheumatologists. If you get diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroid, you're going to see an endocrinologist. If you get diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, you're seeing a gastroenterologist. You're going through these different types of doctors and they looked at and they're treated in that specific vein and there’s a specific drug for that specific disease. The point is they're all autoimmunity, all autoimmune problems, which means that it's your immune system that is recognizing or looking at self tissue and deciding to attack the self tissue. If it's recognizing the joints, they're going to call it rheumatoid. If it's recognizing the sheets that cubby nerve, they call it multiple sclerosis. The common denominator is it's still the immune system that is doing it. What I like to explain to patients whether they come in for whatever the diagnosis is of autoimmunity, the reality is it's an immune game and we have to look at it and treat it as an immune game. The tissue that's being destroyed.
Do you see any positive, long-lasting effects from the medications that are masking those autoimmune disorders? What are your thoughts on that?
Every medication, every drug in anyone takes that side effects, that's not even debatable. It comes down to what's the risk, risk versus reward. The ammunition or the medication they use in the more traditional allopathic medical model, for the most part, are immune-suppressing drugs. Some versions some steroids or even stronger steroids, biologics and different things. The way they operate is they want to shut down the immune system. There's a lot of risks with that because they're shutting down part of the immune system that we need to operate to control infections, viruses, different things and even suppress cancer because our bodies aren't making cancer cells.
Part of the job of one division of your immune system is to recognize when we are developing too many cancer cells, come in and sequestered but if we are taking these steroid types of medications and we're suppressing that part of the immune system, shortly, we get some resolvement into pain but if we're almost for a long duration, we've run the risk of cancer and other types of disease processes. There's a time and place for me to be able to say that. If a person comes to me and they say they have an aggressive autoimmune response, let's say it's against their joints and in a short period of time, their joints are crippling. I'm going to tell them to see the rheumatologist and get on that drug because the natural approach and the nutritional supplementation are not going to work that quickly and they have an aggressive, destructive process taking place but it's not the answer long-term. Hopefully, you don't want to get people to get to you before they get into that aggressive, destructive stage.
People don't realize there are three stages to autoimmunity. You have what is called the silent autoimmune stage. If you run a lab, you run some lab testing where you're running, what we call antibodies, which are specific types of immune chemicals and you're running them against different tissues of the body, let’s say it's thyroid or your joints. Those tests can come back positive with the antibody count is high and the lamp flags that, which means that tissue of your body is marked by your immune system. The immune system hasn't turned on to start causing an attack yet.
They refer to that as the silent stage. The reality is if you know that, it's a matter of time before it's going to get turned on. It's who's a person if they know that to start taking action before the disruption takes place then you move into stage two, which is the active immune response where now it is upregulated and you're creating an attack against that tissue. If that's not regulated, it's going to progress into stage three, where now you have a destruction of tissues in those little late stages. Early, you can see the better.
What tests are general practitioners running? Are they missing anything in a standard blood work panel? What are they testing for? Do they need to do more? How does that work?
You're asking the typical medical doctor?
Yeah, because I have people to come into my office, “I got blood work done and everything came back fine.” In my mind, I'm thinking, “What are they testing for?”
The two things. The first thing is in that comparison, I was explaining to my patients when we look at blood tests is that from a functional perspective, we look at it through a different set of lenses. A medical doctor is still looking at blood work through medical lenses. To try and make this story for your audience clear is what I even teach is that people have looked at plenty of blood tests and on the one side of the page, the left side, they typically see the different tests that are being run. Red blood cells, white blood cells, counts CBCs, chem profiles, different fibered numbers. The next thing you'll see that your results but on the right side of the page is a reference range. Your lab results are compared to the reference range. If it falls inside the reference range, the lab says it’s normal and that's what your doctor looks at. If it's outside the range, lower or high, the doctor notes that. What people don't realize is that the reference ranges are not standardized.
It could be different for everybody.
No, it's different from lab to lab. That makes no sense. In other words, if you went and got your blood tests through LabCorp, you might possibly be diagnosed with hypothyroidism and your doctor wants to put you on medication but with the same exact results, if you got tested let’s say by BioReference or Quest Labs or another lab, they use different reference ranges. They might say that it's normal and your doctor says nothing's wrong and then what the heck is it?
Reference ranges are statistical averages that are curved over the course of three years. Every lab has its own ranges. It's based on the populations of people but what you have is you have a lot of sick people being tested. You have geriatric people that are on 8 and 9 medications that are pulled into this. We referred to that as the normal sick range. A lot of people's blood tests can look okay if a medical town is looking at it but when we look at it, we use functional ranges, which are tighter. A person, for example, can have their fibroid numbers say TSH can be elevated to a point where their thyroid is functioning slow but it's not yet high enough that the medical doctor sees a clinically relevant and a medical doctor doesn't do anything.
That's the difference in the functional approach versus the medical approach. When it comes to also, for example, the antibodies, very often medical doctors traditionally don't run the antibodies. The reason why they don't run the antibodies because one, they don't know what to do with the results. Two, it doesn't change their strategies very much. If you take the most common thing like thyroid. Nowadays, many people have access to the internet or getting more information or learning more about things like autoimmunity and hearing about antibody counts. They're going to their doctors asking them to run the antibodies and the doctors don't want to do it because it doesn't change their strategy. What they're going to say to you is that there's no known cause for autoimmunity and there's no known cure for it and we'll manage it.
The way they manage it, by giving you the medication, the hormone replacements and they watch over time your thyroid gets destroyed and the need for higher amounts of medication. The reason why they don't run it is because it doesn't change their treatment model. From our perspective, if we want to know that, it's important because I will treat my model as 180 degrees different. Their treatment model is to treat the lab. The medical doctor's job is to make your blood tests look pretty. If you go in and you get diagnosed with hypothyroidism because they use a marker called TSH, Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone. If it's above the lab value a few points, they're going to put you on some thyroid replacement hormone. How much? I don't know. They start with a low dose and they say, “Come back in six weeks,” and they take a new blood test.
If the marker is moving down a little bit but it hasn't gone down inside the reference range, they're going to increase your medication again, “Come back in six weeks,” and they will keep increasing it until they can push your TSH on the blood tests inside that lab range and now they say, “Your thyroid is fine.” All they are doing is using the blood test to monitor or manage the prescription. They're not managing the person who has the thyroid problem. If their thyroid problem is because of border immunity, then they're being mismanaged because they're not managing the real causation of the problem, which is the immune system. That's why often doctors say, “Your blood test is fine for thyroid but yet they still have a long list of symptoms that correlates with an underactive thyroid.” It's one of the most mismanaged conditions in medicine.
I have two questions from this. Doc, what do you do with people that come in on a pleura of medications? As chiropractors, we can't legally tell people to go off their medications. How does that interact with what you do?
It interacts in a sense that we have to be cognizant of it and we have to be cognizant of the side effects of the medications have, why they're on the medications. Is the medication helping them? Is it making it worse? My license does not permit me to take them on or off medications. That dialogue takes place with the prescribing physician. I do not take them off the medications. I do make them aware that my job is to work on the root causes of what's happening. As we're getting them healthier and we see their lab testing, proving that they can go back and discuss this with the prescribing physician and see if they can either lower the medication or get off the medications.
Some medications are easy to get off something like hormone replacements are easy to get off, cholesterol medication is easily to get off, blood pressure medications easily to get off. When you get into psychotropic medications, your antidepressants and things, that's a little more sensitive. Your brain gets used to these medications. We advise people who are on that to not on their start those medications but do that with their prescribing doctor.
What are you doing in your practice? How are you getting to the root cause of your patient's problems here?
The root cause is a discovery process. The analysis of how we work with our people, right from the intake. Most people go to a medical doctor and in nowadays’ environment especially right and because of managed care, doctors are spending less and less time with patients, doctors are trying to cover their behinds a little bit of malpractice. I hear it all the time, “You go to a doctor and you've got to wait an hour to see the doctor and then you get it in there.” It's like 5 or 10 minutes. Most of the time, they were on the computer, putting in notes, not even looking at the patient. There's no real evaluation. They're covering their butts and it's a prescription.
I got on a phone call with somebody but we call it a discovery call and it starts right there. A discovery call is a free twenty-minute conversation with me that I can talk to that patient, see what's going on with them, what they did, what they didn't do and even see if what I'm doing is even the right fit for them. In my world and we're in functional medicine, it's a partnership with a patient. It's a lot different. In the medical model, people go to doctors and it's like, “Something's wrong with me. Fix me.” The doctor needs to fix them and give them something. That's not the case. The case now is we're helping people to figure out what's not working.
How do we make changes to that? It starts initially right in the interview to discuss with somebody. I'll spend in my initial workup 90-minutes with somebody going over their history, their lifestyle, influence when they were a kid, traumatic injury. In your case, for example, you had head trauma. We want to know that. Even though you get past that, it still is important for me to know that. Knowing my whole background in neurology, I want to keep it under the radar screen and take a look at that then we also had them fill out different kinds of paperwork. The paperwork that we have people fill out is what I would call useful paperwork. There are questions about them, blood sugar, adrenal issues and gut function stuff.
By my consultation with them, by the initial intake paper, my metabolic forums, I'm already getting a good understanding as to where we need to start functioning and working with somebody. A lot of people having issues with their gut issues and detoxification. We'll be strategized in the pamphlet I'm observing, what maybe functional test would be most appropriate for them. It usually starts somebody off with 2 or 3 lab tests. Commonly, we'll run a stool analysis because we want to look at the gut environment. Your gut environment is so critical. People think of their gut environments as a sterile environment then it's the farthest thing from reality. When you talk to people, they think that their gut is sterile.
When they get infected, they take an antibiotic and it kills the bad guy. Your gut is like a science fiction movie. We live with trillions of organisms, bacteria, tens of thousands of viruses, fungus and protozoa. These organisms especially the bacteria regulate your hormones and your vitamin production. They literally turn on and turn off your genetic expressions. They run the show. We want to take a look down there. Many years ago, research has told us that they understand where Parkinson's disease starts. Parkinson's disease is a brain neurodegenerative disease such as dementia and Alzheimer's. They now know that Parkinson's disease begins in the gut. That's where it starts. That's how important this stuff is.
What are they finding in the gut that's the beginning of Parkinson's?
Finding the gut is they're finding the damaged proteins. What it is? This tau protein, this misfolding of proteins, which then as it gets into the brain, this misfolding of proteins interfering in the connectivity of how one neuron to another communicate with each other.
They find the tau proteins in the gut. I didn't know that.
They travel up the vagus nerve or if your audience does know is considered your it's a cranial nerve. It comes from the brainstem is considered your primary parasympathetic nerve. It integrates the entire visceral organ system but predominance into the gut but we know it's a two-way street. The gut is communicating to that brain via the vagal nerve. It sends hormones up the vagal nerve to the brain. Your brain understands what's going on there. Eighty percent of your immune system is in your gut. It's an immune organ. Your brain is 90% of an immune organ. Doctors don't even know that. You have tenfold as many glial cells in your brain as you do neurons then you get head trauma and as you light up these glial cells, you light them up. It changes the morphology of those glial cells or immune cells, they get a little bit and they get stuck in one spot. It's important to know those things.
What does a stool test reveal to you? Does it give you a lot of data of what the patient should stay away from in terms of eating? I've never had one done and I've heard it shows some great things.
I tend to do it twice a year on myself. Even though I have a healthy lifestyle and I walk the talk that I encourage my patients to do but I have my own genetics, age and different factors. The tests are never 100% but it helps guide and make adjustments, changes to my diet, my lifestyle and things I need to focus on. I tell people there's no one functional test that gives us all the answers. I wish there was but it doesn't exist. When you're running a stool test, what you're observing is the large intestine or the colon. It's not giving us a window of what's happening in the small intestine.
In order to get a window into the small intestine, you have to do a urinary organic acid test. For example, a lot of people have an overgrowth of yeast. I have a young girl who was coming to me. She has severe gastro problems and compromising her life. Lots of different doctors have done stool testing and we ran another stool test on her. It seemed appropriate but the stool test looked better than my stool test. It didn't correlate to her symptoms but we also did a urinary test and a urinary test you're extruding out acids or organic acids, which are the byproducts that breaking down of bacteria or the breaking down of hormones and vitamins.
When you urinate those out and you measure those metabolites, you can get an idea of what's going on upstream. In her particular case, she had a raging yeast overgrowth in a small intestine that wasn't observed in the stool test. If I didn't run that organic acid, I would've missed that. I was able to come in and start to intercede and treat that but in stool test aren't pretty cool though because it looks at everything from digestion, how well you're digesting your proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It looks to rule in and rule out any kind of inflammation in the colon itself. Let’s get a sense of whether there are barrier beaches. We look at metabolites, which are important called short-chain fatty acids, which are manufactured by bacteria.
It measures all of the predominant healthy bacteria you look at and what ratio is they're in. There's a term called dysbiosis. It is a term where there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria collectively versus the good guys. In other words, your gut environment is an ecosystem. It's an ecosystem of good guys and bad guys, all cohabitating. They all can get along. It pushes each other and it's good but we don't want an overgrowth. Many things in life from stress and poor sleeping hygiene and being subluxated and all kinds of things, blood sugar problems contribute to shifting in this ecosystem.
It's easy to call them bad bacteria, the called Gram-negative species but as they die off and slough of, they release a toxin called endotoxemia. It's a toxin made in the body. It's an endotoxin. As long as we have an intact gut barrier, we can clear those toxins out and that's what you want. Many other facts that I said from sleep and stress and all kinds of blood sugar problems, who doesn't have stress is going to start getting a breach in these barriers. The gut barrier breaks down. People have heard of leaky gut. The higher the concentration of these endotoxins formed by these bacteria, it leaks through and gets into circulation and that's known as endotoxemia. It is the number one cause of chronic disease in the world. We'll put it in context. February is Heart Health Month. It's a good area to talk about cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in this country.
Fifty percent of the population will experience a cardiovascular event. That's an underestimate. Why is it so prevalent coronary disease or heart disease? People get concerned. People are worried about having heart attacks and stroke. Who wants to have that? The association, that it's cardiovascular disease. The cardiovascular disease leads to unwanted heart attacks and strokes. I always tell people that if you would have talked to a cardiologist, who knows what the heck they're talking about and what’s the research? You say to a cardiologist, “What is cardiovascular disease?” They're going to tell you it's inflammation in the cardiovascular system that leads to cardiovascular disease. Follow me on this. It's important to understand, is when I ask people, “You hear this term inflammation a lot these days. Alzheimer's disease is inflammation, this and that inflammation. What exactly is inflammation?”
I'm often met with deer in the headlight look. I tell people what it is. It's an immune system reaction. Your immune system creates an inflammatory response. If you've got a sprained ankle and it got swollen, it was red, hot and painful, you go home and you elevate and you put an ice pack on it and take a Motrin anti-inflammatory. After a couple of days, you would hope to see some improvement and you don't have to keep taking the Motrin and living in a night. You may still be taking a few weeks to get over it but you see some improvement. The difference is what happens if 1 or 5 years goes by and you're still popping Motrins and putting an ice pack on it? In that scenario, you would say something is terribly wrong. It is because the inflammation is not calming down but inflammation is an immune system reaction.
If the cardiologist is telling you that cardiovascular disease is inflammation in the cardiovascular system then what we're saying, what we know is that cardiovascular disease is immunologically-based. It's an immune system reaction that is driving damage to the wall, which leads to the plaquing, which a bunch of these to the heart attacks and strokes it's immune-based. The real question from my world as a functional doctor is, “What is at the root cause that's driving that immune system to do it?” Often, you'll see bacterial infections like H. pylori.
The number one thing that the research is pointing to is endotoxemia. The toxins in the gut are creating an immunological response as it enters the bloodstream and the immune system reacting to the endotoxemia is driving the cardiovascular disease. There's your connection between gut health, heart attacks and strokes. The same holds true for the brain because if anybody walks and says, “I have brain fog, memory problems, attention deficit disorders, mood changes, behavioral changes, anxiety, depression,” in the medical world, we think of depression as a clinical condition that needs a drug.
We know that the genetic influences there, I'm going to be respectful for that, it's an inflammatory response in the brain. Many people will say after you had brain trauma, “Now I got depressed.” Brain trauma is leading to an inflammatory response and depression is the frontal lobe of the brain. These are all connected. Now we're saying, these brain changes are immunologically based and your brain is an immune organ. To my world, even as a functional doctor, so much of my emphasis, the where I connect all the dots is what we find is everything nowadays is an immune system-oriented, immune system based. It's the discovery of what's creating either the inappropriate immune system response or you have to calm down. If you look at the situation with COVID, what was the thing that differentiated the people that got serious complications and even in some situations got into the ICU, didn't come home and die?
They weren't metabolically healthy.
You're hearing about these guys is like they created this thing called a cytokine storm. It is an immune system response. Your immune system produces cytokines but it produced an exaggerated amount of them and didn't calm down. The complications, the severity of their problems were not the virus. It was an inappropriate immune response. These people have underlying immune problems going on. If these people have underlying endotoxemia from their gut and are driving more pro-inflammatory immunological responses in their cardiovascular system and in their brains and then they get a COVID infection throughout the races. That's when you're seeing that many of these infections or these complications that people gained, what they call the long haulers what's happening is it's being shown that the immune response is triggering additional autoimmune conditions. These people post-recovery of COVID now have either new or additional autoimmune diseases, all triggered by that event and all triggered by the immune system dysregulated.
Whether you believe in, if the vaccines work or not, it's still not going to keep you healthy if you have an underlying metabolic condition.
I did a live webinar on the COVID vaccination. I was getting many phone calls from past patients and stuff about what my thoughts were on the vaccination. It's not the right time to talk about that. I do have a video recording. My point is what you said too though, the vaccination, whether you choose to get it or not but that you still have to improve the immune resiliency. You can't go continuing to live a pro-inflammatory lifestyle and expect that the vaccine is going to save you. The vaccine is going to work better if you have a robust immune system and a more responsive and you want a balanced immune system. I don't want to get too far into that subject.
You mentioned another important thing. A lot of your patients come to you and they've been in a function of a disease or an unhealthy environment for quite some time. With what you do, I'm sure you get some phenomenal results quickly but in other cases, how much do you tell your patients to give, to transform back to the other side of health? Because they've been in this inflammatory state for so long, people always want that quick fix but in reality, true healing takes time. What's a good baseline do you tell your patients to stick with it?
It is different from person to person. I do get your question. There are a lot of factors that are involved. If a person has more of that mindset of, “Fix me,” this whole approach is not right for them. There's going to be a frustrating experience both for the patient and myself. I've learned over many years then I start to win those patients out because it's too frustrating and experience. People need to take responsibility. They need somebody to figure things out for them, give them some guidance and coaching, educate them. I spent a lot of time educating people.
If they're taking supplements, I need to educate them as to why they're doing something. I always feel that people understand why they're doing something they're going to more likely to follow through and get better results. My goal is I need compliance from patients but it's my responsibility to make sure people understand things and motivate them so they can be compliant. When they're more compliant, they're going to tend to get better results. There's no doubt about that. Your question is, it varies from person to person. There are some people that are quite fortunate. They're going to have a lot of complications and they could start making some dietary changes and take them some target nutrition. It can make some good change for them but I would say the vast majority of people because many of the people that we see all the different systems of the body are interrelated.
A lot of women who come to me know that they have hormonal imbalances. They're not being told that from the medical doctor but they know it and they're right. It's not like you can easily switch incorrect hormones because your hormones are directly related to your immune system. There's something called the neuroendocrine-immune super system. This is shown in your research and what that means, neuro means your brain, endocrine your hormones and it's all your hormones. It includes your sex hormones like estrogen progesterone. It includes stress hormones like cortisol, includes your thyroid hormones. Maybe 80% of your immune system is in your gut. You have a brain hormone gut/immune system. Even if a person has hormone dysregulation or a woman is going through her changes from perimenopause into menopause, it's still the gut and immune system that have a huge impact on that.
It's different from maybe person as to what needs to be corrected and any energy that's put in. Globally, the answer to that is that most people six months is realistic. Six months is the timeframe I tell most people. I never see hormones reregulate fully prior to six months. We work with people in programs. We have 90-day programs and stuff but for the most complicated case is they try to get people to at least get their heads wrapped around six months and I think that's reasonable. Most of the cells in your body take about six months to replace themselves. There's something called a metabolic set point. A metabolic setpoint means that you need to be doing something consistently for six months to set a new pattern. A lot of people, if they start to do something for six weeks and then they bail and they go back, they're going to grow up back to square one.
You mentioned this a little bit earlier. I wanted to touch on it. What is good stress and what is bad stress?
We all know doctors will tell so many people. “I can't figure out what's wrong.” They're like, “It's stress.” They make very light of it. Stress is a big deal. We all can agree that stress is a killer but there are two kinds of stress. There's good stress that’s often called eustress. My example of that would be gravity. Gravity keeps our bones and muscles strong. We can push heavyweights and get some resistance and strain and then your muscles grow. Some people do well under deadlines. They push things off, pushing up. When I got a deadline to finish a project, there's a lot of stress but to become more creative and productive.
It's to some degree where you have what I would call control over stress, it can be okay. It can be good. The kind of stress will have no control. It gets things get a little unhinged. Take a look at the environment we live in with COVID. It's almost a year now that we're into this and there’s no end in sight, little bit speculations up and down and everything else and about working, not working fine and you don’t know, you're living and that’s bad stress. We have emotional stressors, like COVID as an example or relationship difficulties, financial issues, all the things that people are familiar with. We also have what people don't realize are internal stressors or physiological stressors. These are not good stresses. These are bad stressors but people don't think about this.
The number one physiological stress stressor is going to be blood sugar dysregulation. What I mean by dysregulation is your blood sugar too low, which is called hypoglycemia or whereas your blood sugar levels elevated, which is insulin resistance, which is pre-diabetes or more advanced cases, diabetes. I always say to people, it's a trick question, “What's worse? Having low blood sugar or high blood sugar?” The answer is that they are both equally bad because in both scenarios whether your blood sugar is too low or too high, what it means is that glucose, which is blood sugar is not getting inside yourself. Your cells need to make energy. This is metabolism 101. Your cells have got to make the energy to function and the brain needs to make more energy than any cell in your body.
Glucose is a fuel to get inside your cells. If the glucose is not getting inside your cells, you're not going to have the fuel to make energy and your brain is going to start freaking out. Where's the fuel coming from? If it's not getting enough fuel, your brain is going to start then to send out the stress alarm and you start getting now a cascade of stress hormones, flooding the blood system and then off to the races you go because they have all these feedback loops going. That would be an example of physiological stress or if there's gut dysbiosis, overgrowth of bad bacteria, producing toxins in the body. Even hormones, for example, what many people don't realize about hormones is that we think about making hormones and using our hormones.
A lot of doctors want to put people on hormone therapy. One of the key points about hormones is your body's ability to break them down and clear them out, it's a term called biotransformation. Think of it as detoxing the used portion of the hormone. We see so often that pathways are compromised. If that's the case then these metabolites, these pseudo hormones like estrogens are backing up into the system and you're flooding your body now with these metabolites or hormones and they are outcome impeding the real hormone to do its job at the cellular level. It's like playing musical chairs and the fake hormones are winning out. These are all things. You have blood sugar dysregulation, there are gut issues, endotoxemia or hormone dysregulation.
Those are all things that we're investigating from what our physiological stressors and oftentimes, you also have to address the emotional stresses too with people and the psychosocial components of different things. Those are important things. If people come in to see you, for example, and this happens unfortunately, a person comes in to see me and they've got their way to me and they're excited to work with me but their spouse is not on board. Their spouse has a different philosophy and is still coming from the “fix me” mentality or the medical mentality of, “Take a drug and be done with it.” Yet your symptoms are all in your head. That's not going to work then because that person who was coming to see me is not getting that support at home.
Not a great healing environment.
Those are the things that we take into consideration when we decide on who's a good fit for us.
Where can people find you? How do people sign up for an appointment consultation? Where you're located?
My website is a great place to get started. My website has a free video mini-course all about functional medicine. It takes a deeper dive, not too complicated. I'll make for the average person. It's a cool ten-part video series that you can get more learning. They go to my website, which is GetWell-Now.com/videoseries and that'll get right to them. They can watch the video series. Also if they go to the website, there’s a lot of information there and we do offer a free discovery call. If anybody's interested in maybe working with me one-on-one, it's free, there's no cost, it's twenty minutes to discuss their health issues with me and see if we're a right fit.
Also, we're excited about a Facebook page that we have up and running. We did a 5-day 5-pound challenge that people had a great turnout and the Facebook page has launched. It's a great place. They can go to Root Cause Healing. That’s the Facebook page and it can interact there. There’s a lot of good information people going back and forth and we're trimming a lot with some advice, instruction and stuff. Those are three cool ways they can reach out and communicate with me.
At the end of every show, I like to ask all my guests, what is one piece of advice that has resonated with you over the years that you would like to give the audience? it could be anything.
There is so much advancement in the natural holistic health field that's focused on empowering people to take control of their health. The older model is going by the wayside that, “I got a problem fix me mentality.” People are yearning. You’re seeing younger and younger people that are more proactive about health. They want to start eating right. They're much more involved in the environment and taking responsibility and making this world a better place. This world that I'm in functional medicine is booming. What I want to leave people with is that there are such great opportunities to empower yourself.
They always say health is your greatest gift. The older I get, the more you realize how true that is. from relationships to your economic success, everything is so dependent upon the health of your brain. We now know that all of these things are within our reach if we have the right resources and the right people to help us. With Alzheimer's, they foresee in the next many years for Alzheimer's disease to triple. It's unfortunate. It's a horrible disease. We know that in the medical world, there's no drug on the horizon because of what we know about Alzheimer's and this goes for all brain degenerative diseases, they're multifactorial approaches. There's not going to be one drug to fix it. If we're taking a multifactorial approach and helping people and that's what you've got to do in a functional world. There's time in places for medical doctors and you still need them. This world is more about empowering people and getting people on our health journey. That's how I leave it.
Dr. Pucci, thank you so much for coming on. I loved this episode and we'd love to have you back on anytime.
I would love it. My pleasure. It’s great talking with you. I look forward to being on your show again.
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