How Gut Bacteria Influences Rheumatoid Arthritis
It’s time to learn about your microbiome and how it influences RA. So, grab a green juice and get comfy for an information-filled conversation between Clint and special guest Richard Matthews, author of the ‘The Symbiont Factor‘ and all round nice guy (and genius!). You’ll learn:
– How Richard eliminated his chronic finger pain with dietary changes
– The personal inspiration behind his research
– How gut bacteria behave
– Types of bacteria in your gut
– How your ‘microbiome’ can become unbalanced
– Dysbiosis and how this will affect health
– How gut bacteria influence Rheumatoid Arthritis
– Ways to improve RA via changing gut bacteria
– The negative effects that eating meat can have on your friendly microbes
Clint: Okay, everyone. Welcome to this episode. I’m very excited today. We have a really good episode. We’ve got a wonderful guest today called Richard Matthews and he’s the author of a book called “The Symbiont Factor“. It’s a book all about how bacteria in our gut and actually in our whole body can affect our overall health. And I loved this book, and so I wanted to get Richard on for an episode, and I’m really excited to have you on the call. Good day, Richard.
Richard: Good day. I’m excited to be on the call as well. I’m excited that you like my book.
Clint: Absolutely. In fact, let me give you my little story about how I came about with your book. What happened is I was going to the gym in Florida a few months ago. My wife’s from Florida. And I was over there on an extended visit and I wanted something to read while I was at the gym on my phone in between sets and your book came on to my phone via a Kindle version.
Clint: And in fact, at first, I just got the check it out for free, kind of, and I read it to the end and thought this is fascinating. And I must have saved after I bought it. I then went ahead. And I must have saved about 30 screen shots of things that I found fascinating and thought I have to mention this in a podcast, or in a blog post or something.
And then when we connected on your Facebook page, I thought, wow, perfect to get him on the podcast. So it’s a fascinating book. And I guess where we should start is, how did you come about to getting to a position where you wanted to write a book about microbes and human health? How did this all originate?
Richard: Well, I’ve been a chiropractic physician here in Arkansas since 1990. And as you know, chiropractic is all about using your hands, it’s even in the name. And a number of years ago, I began to develop a lot of pain in my hands, pain and numbness.
I’m sure that if I had gone to a surgeon, he would have told me that I was developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. That would have explained the numbness, but I also was experiencing some rather extreme joint pain so much so that by the end of the day, if I simply tried to turn a door knob, or take the top off of a bottle of a beer, that it felt like I was having pins driven through all my knuckles. It was excruciating.
And at that point, I would ice my hands down after work, my wife would work on my forearms and try to loosen all of the spasms in my forearms. And really that became so severe that I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to retire or choose another profession because the time that it started to hurt moved earlier and earlier in the day. And I did what I would normally do for one of my patients if I didn’t know the answer is do some research, start learning, and find a way so I did that with myself.
And one of the first things that I did, and I think I got quite lucky, but one of the first things that I did was to discontinue all wheat products in my diet. And that had a rather miraculous effect. After two weeks, it was quite bearable, and after a month, I didn’t have any more pain in my hands. And that also raised a lot of questions. Okay, I found something but what is it exactly that I found besides relief for my particular hands?
So I continued reading and learning and came across an individual named Eshel Ben-Jacob. He’s an Israeli researcher who also studies or teaches, I should say, at Rice University in Texas. The image that graces the front of the book is actually one of his bacterial colonies and he wrote an endorsement for me. Wonderful, fascinating individual. He’s one of the people that worked on putting nerve cells on a computer chip, and growing them together, for example. He’s really quite an individual.
But his particular work of interest to me that led to this book was looking at the bacterial colonies not simply as colonies of individual bacteria, but as colonies that had all the attributes or many of the attributes of multi-cellular organisms. Whereas one individual bacteria could only do very little, as a colony, they can act with a collective intelligence that is quite remarkable. And much of Professor Ben-Jacob’s work really, at least his earlier work, was looking at the organizational abilities, the intelligence, if you will, of bacterial colonies.
So in the process of learning about why eliminating wheat helped me so much, I learned, okay, we have a tremendous tenth to the fourteenth trillions of gut bacteria and symbiont bacteria and organisms practically everywhere else in the body, but the predominance of them gut in the gut. And I thought, okay, if a bacterial colony can act with intelligence, and we have a bacterial colony that is really quite extensive that lives within us, what would happen if it acted with intelligence because it must be, but we may not be recognizing that?
And that’s one of the core concepts in “The Symbiont Factor“, really. If the bacterial colony is balanced and predominantly healthy and in agreement with the body, we see that we are healthy and we don’t really think very much of it. It’s when they become imbalanced, and thing s become more interesting and start to go wrong.
Clint: Now, something you mentioned that reminded me of a TEDx talk that I recall from a couple of years ago, and I’m hoping that you’ll pick up on this at some point and you’ll be able to fill in the blanks, but there was a woman who gave a talk about research about underwater squid where bacteria, when they are at a certain level, do not emit a color or a dye color. But then at a certain level . . .
Clint: Yeah, can you pick up on that, and just briefly tell me who that was, if you recall?
Richard: I believe that is Bonnie Bassler and her research was into the methods that bacteria use to communicate with each other.
Clint: Right. The reason why I wanted to bring that up is because what’s profound that you touched upon that she also explained is that when there are insufficient numbers, bacteria can behave a certain way, but almost like a team or a tribe who’s ready to take over a different tribe.
When they have enough numbers on their side, they can then make different decisions, and when they are in sufficient numbers, they can say, let’s go and either attack the body or let’s now try and break down that other bacterial invasion or something. And that’s just fascinating that they make those kinds of decisions.
Clint: And from a point of view of an autoimmune disease which is where our listener bases is all at, I think that it’s fascinating that what could potentially be happening on the onset of this disease is the potentially at some point, there is sufficient dysbiosis, and we’ll get into these phrases in a second, but a sufficient amount of bad bacteria who then say, now is the time we are going to influence this host organism, being the human, and that it can happen suddenly as opposed to something that seems to be gradual.
Richard: Yes, absolutely. The bacteria’s ability to take a head count is called quorum sensing. Just like if you have a board, a meeting, you have to have a sufficient number, a quorum before you are allowed to make any decisions. And the bacteria do much of the same thing, as you stated. I think that in the case or rheumatoid arthritis and many other conditions, that is quite possible.
But one of the ways to consider that also involves looking at what is the effect of a shift in bacterial colony, or what are the bacterial colony’s effects on our behavior, on our mood, on our appetite, on our sleep cycles, practically everything that is behavior to a human is in some way influenced by bacteria.
So now, bacteria acting as a multi-cellular organism have one, maybe a couple of basic drives. One is to survive and the other is to reproduce. So when you look at survive, different types of bacteria, anaerobes for example, or gram positive, gram negative, some that are fermentative, some that are putrefactive, they all have optimum conditions that will allow them to grow, and they have some conditions that inhibit their growth.
So if you have an increasing level of bacteria, for example, that thrive in a gut that is sluggish and doesn’t move much, those tend to be more bacteria that are putrefactive, in other words, they rot things instead of fermenting them, they produce some very foul inflammatory and toxic chemicals, literally chemicals that have names like cadaverine, that’s actually a bi-product of one of them.
But what would be the thing that a colony of bacteria that are putrefactive would want to occur. Well, they would want your gut to slow down so that food sticks around long enough that it doesn’t just ferment but they get to rot it and grow their numbers. If your gut is working normally, things move along at a pretty good clip, and these guys never really get much of a foothold, because by the time they get anywhere, it’s already down the toilet.
But one of the things that can happen that slows the gut very simply is just if you are more stressed. If life, the events of the day really profoundly affect you and make you stressed, worried, anxious, what that does is it rumps up you autonomic nervous system to more of what is called a sympathetic state or we often call that a fighter flight state.
And in a fighter flight state, then your gut movement is inhibited, and it slows down, it becomes sluggish, and it produces exactly the conditions that these bacteria will thrive on. So now, it’s not surprising that those are some of the effects that we see, whereas bacteria that are fermentative, that do not need those slow-moving gut conditions will tend to make you feel more of a sense of relaxation, you are more apt to take deep breaths, you are more likely to oxygenate your system. And you feel good that way. You don’t get constipated. But when things take a week or two to get from one end of the digestive tract to the other, bad things can grow in between.
Clint: Yeah, absolutely.
Richard: It’s incredibly common, too. Most of the world seems to have what I call the poo taboo, or people just simply don’t often talk about it. I once went on a house call to visit a patient who had extreme back pain. One of his other family members called me and said, “You got to come work on him. He can’t even get off the floor.” So at lunch time, I packed up my portable table and went to look at the man. Found him, sure enough, lying on the floor on his living room, he couldn’t get up.
But when I felt along on his back, his back seemed okay. So I said, “Well, let see what else we’ll find. Maybe he’s got a kidney stone or something.” I had him turn on his back and felt his abdomen, and it felt like it was full of golf balls. The guy hadn’t had a bowel movement. Well I asked him, I said, “When was the last time you had a bowel movement?” He said, “I don’t know, two or three weeks. That’s about normal, isn’t it?” “No, that is not normal.”
Clint: Goodness me.
Clint: Well, I know that most of my listeners who follow my train of thought with treating rheumatoid arthritis tend on a plant-based diet and they get a ton of healthy fibers, which not only help bowel movements to be very regular, but also feed the healthy fermentative bacteria that you talked about before and keep everything moving. So you’ve had . . .
Richard: And it helps, doesn’t it?
Richard: And it helps, the rheumatoid arthritis, doesn’t it?
Clint: Absolutely. I found the more salad I would eat, the better I would feel. Pretty much to no limit, just more and more salad. With the early days of discovery for me, one of the earliest things besides fasting, which provided instant and complete relief within just a couple of days, it was.
Clint: Absolutely. And this is not just for me, but also there’s been some studies, where they’ve taken people with rheumatoid arthritis through 12-day fasts, and 100% of them have almost complete elimination of all pain. It’s absolutely phenomenal amount of relief. But also with people that I work with, in the first two days of our Paddison Program is a two-day green juice cleanse.
And I just had an email this morning that I was reading just before we got on the call, of a guy who’s been on all of the heavy biologic drugs and the whole drug medicine cabinet, and he cannot believe how good he feels after just a day-and-a-half of the juice cleanse because we never stop eating, do we? We always keep eating and eating and eating. And since we stop . . .
Richard: That’s true.
Clint: Yeah. We think, “Wow, the food has a lot to do with how I feel.” I had a long list of questions I wanted to ask you, and I could sit and listen to you. You’ve also got a really wonderfully smooth voice, you are perfect for a podcast, not to mention handsome, but people can’t see that.
Richard: Well, thank you.
Clint: So let’s talk about how microbes, you’ve touched already on this, but how can microbes play a role in our digestive system, maybe just a couple of paragraphs on what happens when the food hits our small and then large intestine? And how does the bacteria influence the food as it moves through? And perhaps give us a little bit of one on one on that.
Richard: Okay. Well, for one thing, you have to consider that each one of these steps operate in what I would call a feedback loop. So for example, when food enters the stomach, the activity in the stomach and the activity in the remainder of the gut is in part determined by how much you chewed the food. Food that doesn’t require much chewing tends to not activate the parasympathetic nervous system and that’s what powers the gut. So if your food is fast food, Taco Bell we have here, for example, you don’t really need to chew this stuff if you think about it. There’s nothing in there to chew. You can just bite it and swallow it. So that doesn’t really activate the gut. So right from the beginning, the food tends to sit more because the gut doesn’t move it along.
But the bacteria in the small intestine have the ability to regulate some of what goes on upstream. So for example, if you have some fats in your diet, then your gall bladder is supposed to secrete some bile to help emulsify the fat, sort of like dish washing detergent does on greasy dishes, and the gut bacteria actually influence the production of bile salts. They influence the production of digestive enzymes because that influences what comes down to them. So again, they are taking some action to try to improve their lot in life and create a better environment for themselves.
Now again, if the bacteria is imbalanced, if you are dysbiotic, then the sequence of events may not really turn out quite so well for the host, for the human body half of the equation because they may not trigger as much bile, or it may trigger the liver to produce quite a bit of it, but the gall bladder never release it. And that can make you more prone to gall stones, for example. Along with if your diet is really quite a poor one, the pH can be all wrong, and that combination results in gall stones. Then the bacteria themselves, help to break down some of the food.
In fact, if you look at plant fiber, you’ve noticed dramatic improvement with the addition of more plant material. But there is nothing on the planet that can actually consume plant material except for bacteria. Termites cannot eat wood, it’s their microbiome that actually breaks it down. The termite itself can’t break down wood fiber. And I think that is actually one of the things that is used by the people that kill the termites, if they kill the microbiome of the termite, the termite becomes ill and it can’t digest its food.
So it happens on every level. We see goats, we see horses, we see cattle, everyone of these animals that eats green leafy anything only digest it because its bacteria breaks down the cell walls, the actual cellulose. Nothing else can eat the stuff.
This is really something that needs to be brought to light and discussed a little bit more because if you expand our thought all the way out to the planet, and I’ll come back to the gut in just a moment, but if you look at the entire planet as an ecosystem, what is it that powers the planet?
Well, you have sunlight. There’s only one organism in the plane that can do anything with sunlight, and those are plants, for the most part, maybe some fungi and so forth can photo synthesize a little bit. But it’s mostly plants. If you couldn’t digest plants, well, plants would be the only thing on the planet.
So if it weren’t for bacteria, you could make a pretty good case that nothing else would actually be alive because plants are the primary source of biomass on the planet, and only bacteria can break it down. So it’s just a really critical in-between step, both outside of this and inside of this. If we don’t have sufficient beneficial bacteria, then we really cannot digest any of the plant matter that we eat. And of course, if we can’t digest it, we derive no useful nutrition from it, and that can leave us very, very imbalanced.
Very often medically that’s as far as the knowledge of the microbiome is discussed, unfortunately, which is 20 or 30 years behind what the research says. And that was one of the reasons that I wanted to write “The Symbiont Factor” because I realized research has raced far ahead of what is commonly used medically.
Clint: And also in practice, I mean, I’m finding that even medical professionals who many people are going to to get advice about medications and treatments and just getting clearance for being able to make dietary changes and things like that are actually unaware of all the research that is going on in the area of the microbiome.
Clint: Actually it used to be a little bit of an irritant to me, maybe about 18 months ago, but now, it’s just absolutely unforgivable to not realize now that with autoimmune diseases and, for the most part, just about all health-related matters, as your book points out, to a large extent influenced, and not just influenced, but probably caused by bacterial imbalances.
Clint: Yes. So this is why I want to keep picking your brains and dig deeper into this topic because the discussions that we’ll have with you and people like yourself, I think, is holding the key to people understanding their disease better, and therefore feeling more confident about the directions they are taking with their diet, exercise, and some few supplements that I think have any value. And it gives them more hope and it gives them just that feeling of momentum as well when they are seeing results. It makes them feel like they are on top of it and they understand what they are doing.
Clint: So let’s now talk about how dysbiosis can occur. And if anyone is just a little unclear still, dysbiosis just means a bacterial imbalance. So instead of having a healthy ecosystem within the body where friendly bacteria or good bacteria is very common and play a supportive role to the host in that sense, in our case, it’s being us as human beings, and dysbiosis just means that there is an imbalance that doesn’t serve us as a human being with the bacteria portfolio.
So how might this occur? I think we all get an idea of this. You’ve mentioned stress being one of them, and we’ve already talked about how diet can positively impact bacterial imbalances. But are there any other ways that we are overlooking besides stress and diets?
Richard: Absolutely. One of the most basic ones is the basis for what is called hygiene theory. And that’s pretty central to the study of autoimmune diseases. When you look at the microbiome, hygiene theory is simply the theory that if we spend too much time and too much chemistry killing off bacteria, we rob our bodies of the opportunity of being exposed to those bacteria, and giving our immune system a lesson about what it is supposed to be doing.
This is proven somewhat by countries that do not have very good sanitary standards, that may go very far off the other end, but they tend to not have autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are largely an artifact of modernized countries. And everyday, I see mothers that are disinfecting their children’s hands, disinfecting shopping carts, disinfecting food, disinfecting everything with antibacterial wipes and sprays.
And really what happens is you end up with an immune system that is like a military force with no training whatsoever. It may shoot the enemy, it may shoot friendlies. And that’s largely what autoimmune diseases are, they are an error of function in the immune system where a lot of our own tissues suffer injuries from friendly fire.
So you can also have chemistry introduced. One of the most common ones, for example, are pesticides and herbicides, defoliants like Roundup or glyphosate which is the active ingredient. The companies like Monsanto, for example, in America rather vehemently defend the product. Of course, they make billions and billions of dollars worldwide from the product so we expect they will defend it.
But they defend it by saying that it is not toxic to humans, which is in my line of thinking, really somewhat of a legal loop hole because it does not appear to be toxic to human cells, unless you look at gut bacteria and, of course, all of our symbiont organisms. And as I explained in the book, the chemical itself, glyphosate, interrupts a metabolic pathway called the Shikimate pathway, and I’ not sure if that’s really how it’s pronounced, just as an aside, but that is what it looks like. And this is a pathway in plants that they need in order to metabolize energy and produce proteins. Once it’s interrupted, the plant dies.
Human cells, all eukaryotic cells, complex organisms do not have that metabolic pathway. So by definition, you would think it’s not toxic. But there are two exceptions to that. One being all of our symbiont organisms, all of our bacteria, because bacteria do have that pathway. And the second one is the little powerhouse that lives inside the cell, mitochondria.
Mitochondria, as you know, don’t actually have human DNA. They have really what looks purely like bacterial DNA. And this is not any big secret because genetic researchers have, for years, used that mitochondrial DNA to trace ancestry because it is only passed down from the mother. It’s purely matrilineal. I suspect the reason is that mitochondria and that DNA probably don’t fit in a sperm as well as they do in an egg because the egg is so much bigger. But in any case, it’s only passed down from the mother so it’s useful to track people’s ancestry.
But that mitochondria produces all of the energy for every one of our cells, whether it’s a muscle cell, a skin cell, a nerve cell or a brain cell, and if it runs out of energy, bad things happen. That can be anything from chronic fatigue to Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s, and certainly also dysfunctions of the immune system can be dependent on your actual energetic reserves, both directly and indirectly.
Then simple things like chlorine in the water, fluoride in the water, those have been shown to be bad for gut bacteria. Certainly antibiotics that people take, where in America our CDC or Centers for Disease Control have come as far as to issue some rather stringent guidelines, they are not laws, but guidelines restricting physicians’ use of antibiotics for a variety of things.
Here in Arkansas, for example, it is a very rural, somewhat backward state, apologies to the fellow Arkansans. I’m originally from New York, I can say that. One of the things that I have seen for years and I had a practice here for 25 years is that people say, “Yes I had a cold. My doctor gave me a prescription for antibiotics.” Well, that’s nice. A cold is almost always viral and antibiotics don’t do anything. And doctors apparently know this but people are rather demanding. Same thing with many sinus infections.
You can look it up at CDC.org, I think its dot-org or dot-com, anyway, and these guidelines are really quite direct in saying that we have a huge problem with antibiotic resistance developing in bacteria. And it’s a really bad thing because if you truly get a serious infection and you really do need an antibiotic, it would be nice if the thing actually worked. And more and more, we have cases where it does not work.
So antibiotics, however, don’t just come from doctors. I have seen estimates as high as three quarters of antibiotics are actually in meat. Personally I believe that this is one of the reasons that so many people find that they are much healthier on a vegetarian diet. It’s hard to separate the different facts and, at some point, you have to do what works. I believe that one of the reasons though is that meat has such high levels of antibiotic residue.
And there are research studies that show that ingesting commercial meat with antibiotic reserves alters the gut bacteria in the person or the animal that eats the meat. In other words, the antibiotic is still active and it’s released in our bodies as if the doctor read a prescription for you, except that we might eat that stuff two times a day, three times a day. So the levels can actually accumulate quite a bit and be very bad for our gut bacteria. Unfortunately as this is just so often the case, it seems to affect the good gut bacteria far more than the bad gut bacteria. It’s just Murphy’s microbial law, I don’t know, but that’s just how it is.
And then, of course, bacteria can have just a swap session where they exchange DNA. And if they acquire a code for antibiotic resistance, they’ll trade it to other bacteria. And that happens rather quickly and it can happen across species, and it can happen from non-pathogenic to pathogenic bacteria. They are rather indiscriminate in their sharing of DNA. So DNA swap-meet.
So once somebody has been exposed to antibiotics through all these sources for years, for a lifetime perhaps, you can be certain that there is antibiotic resistance in many, many bacteria in the body. In fact, antibiotic-resistant DNA has been found in streams, lakes, ocean, reservoirs, public water systems. It’s everywhere because when people take antibiotics, they pee out antibiotics, and it goes downstream as everything else does. So it affects the whole planet even through it might start from inside us.
And of course, stress, and of course, dietary patterns. Simply dietary patterns like eating too many sweets. We have a bizarre situation with food, where people are taught almost nothing about what food is for, as far as feeding and building a body and keeping it healthy and fueling it. And instead, we are told to eat this and eat this by all of the commercialized interest that would rather that we ate something sweet and have a long shelf life.
Clint: Absolutely. Well, things that are sweet with long shelf life are very inexpensive to make and can be sold to parents who are trying to calm down screaming children at a high price. So there’s . . .
Clint: Now, you’ve mentioned some great things that I just want to touch upon for a little bit. A lot of listeners have asked me to go into a little bit more detail at times about what happened and what I went through. It’s with regards to the antibiotics. We’ve got a community member who I met up with recently, and we almost have the most identical pre-diagnosis history in that I took antibiotics as a teenager for five years for acne, between the age of about 16 or 17 and through to my early 20s.
I had acne all over my face, and my dad who had a similar thing when he was growing up at the same time, he said the only thing that would stop it for him was antibiotics. Now, I’m from a cattle farm and so we didn’t even talk about changing diet or anything, and I could get rid of this acne, which kept coming back and back and back. And it was very bad for my self-esteem as a teenager when you are trying to get a first girlfriend or something.
Clint: And so I went on five years of doxycycline. And then some years later, my actual day job is standup comedy, which I have actually been doing for nearly 15 years. And I had to go and entertain the Australian and the U.S. troops over in Iraq, and throughout the Middle East, in Dubai, and all over the place. And six months prior to departure, I had to take a whole bunch of immunization injections from meningococcal and hepatitis A, hepatitis B and all those stuff.
And so six months after that, I got diagnosed with RA. And my parents still believe that the reason I got the disease was due to those injections. But I believe that it had more to do with the antibiotics. Now, I personally believe that antibiotic use over a long period of time is the number one risk factor for developing an autoimmune disease. That’s my personal feeling particularly with the feedback that I get from people with RA. And I communicate with thousands of people with RA, and I have done over the last three to four years, and I just really strongly feel that long dosages, many, many months to years of antibiotics is the biggest risk factor of all.
Clint: And then what’s really unsettling is that one of the first drugs that rheumatologists like to suggest when you go and see them with rheumatoid arthritis, is low-dose antibiotics.
Clint: And first time I saw doxycycline again after I had stopped taking it in my early 20s is when I went to see my rheumatologist for the first time.
Richard: How ironic.
Clint: And I said something doesn’t feel right about this. It just doesn’t feel right. And at that time, I knew nothing about ways to heal disease or gut bacteria or just health in general other than what you pick up from your friends and family who are all getting flu once a year and all just living with meat and potatoes lifestyle, which I’d become used to and quite enjoyed.
But when I was given an option of going on antibiotics, just even then, my intuition at that very infant stage of my journey with RA and discoveries, I knew that didn’t seem right. And so anyway, because of the power of medical professionals, I took the antibiotics as I was told for a period of time along with some anti-inflammatory, Voltaren, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs and I worsened really quick.
Now, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have worsened fast anyway without those drugs. But I now try and encourage people to find alternative sources of medications if they have RA, after consultations with their rheumatologists, of course, ones that do not affect gut health and gut bacteria in a way that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories affect leaky gut. And prednisone can affect the mucosal lining, and of course, antibodies can just deplete like a nuclear bomb our bacteria in our guts.
So they are the three that I caution people about to have discussions with their rheumatologist about because when on those sorts of drugs, and they are trying to heal naturally, it’s like taking two steps forward and then one or even two steps backwards because of the perpetual damaging effects that those three categories of medication can have.
Clint: Yeah. Let’s now continue because we are moving along . . .
Richard: You gave me some ideas there. I want to connect the dots a little bit for you.
Clint: Yeah, good.
Richard: Because your story, in some ways, mimics mine. I’ve gone back and tried to think about what happened to me. And when I was a teenager, I had what I now think was probably mild asthma, but it manifested as trouble breathing and a lot of congestion. And my family took me to the local medical physician who always wrote a prescription for antibiotics. So this would happen very often, probably not quite not as often as yours, but it was very often.
And I never had any of these problems with joint pain until I had a trip to Mexico, and I got some sort of Mexican crab that made me violently ill for a period of probably 14 to 18 hours. Literally, Clint, I stayed next to the toilet because I realized there was no point in leaving it. It was my master. And I wasn’t quite right for a while after that. And you are absolutely right that having taken all of the antibiotics is the problem. But here’s the thing, what that does, of course, is it creates some dysbiosis, it imbalances your gut bacterial populations, and your immune system takes much of its instructions from your gut bacteria.
So now, you have an immune system that’s getting aberrant instructions, but that may not manifest as anything until that immune system is challenged, in my case, by a gut infection, bad seafood or something, and in your case, from a selection of vaccinations so that you could go overseas. That brings me to another thought that’s not directly related to rheumatoid arthritis, but in a way it is, because your reaction and mine show that a faulty immune system can cause rheumatoid arthritis.
But I have been following for years the issue of vaccine reactions in children. And people fall very quickly into two camps and sometimes they get in quite heated arguments. In America, they are called anti-vaccers and pretty much everybody else. But what I really believe at this point is that when children have a vaccination and have an adverse reaction, and we know that happens, because they have a huge financial fund in America to reimburse people for their medical expenses when they have these vaccine reactions, I believe that what is happening is we are unwittingly revealing a dysfunctional immune system by challenging it with a vaccination just as happened to you.
And so the result is an inflammatory response. Only in most of those kids’ cases, the ones that we read about, the target of the inflammation, the autoimmune reaction is actually brain and not joint. But other than that, it’s the same thing. You’ve got a kid who has imbalanced bacteria, probably in part from diet and in part from childhood antibiotics for ear infections and whatnot, and then his immune system if challenged with the vaccinations.
Clint: Possibly from a C-section, right?
Richard: Possibly from a C-section, possibly from not breast feeding, possibly from mum having a not so good microbiome to start with because that’s, at best, the starting point for the baby. And some mothers probably don’t have as healthy a microbiome because of what theirs has been through during their life prior to child birth.
So one way or the other, that immune system gets tested, and sometimes the results reveal that it doesn’t really work that well. Because you could have a problem with your car, and if it’s just sitting in your garage, you’d never know. Go out and drive that thing on some windy roads and see what happens, then you find out. Same thing with the immune system.
Clint: I love it. That’s a very, very, as you say, well, definitely a potential of connecting the dots there. I’d never thought that through in that way. I do like that.
Richard: I thought you might find it useful.
Richard: These reactions I find to be very secured skewed us in a way also because, for example, most people when they are in pain, if they don’t know better will tend to eat comfort food in one way or another, often sweets, often deep-fried things, comfort food, the very thing that makes us more imbalanced.
Clint: Absolutely, yeah.
Richard: So what actually drives that? Why would somebody choose to do that? Except that now you have a population of bacteria that is gaining a foothold and getting perhaps a voting majority in that quorum. And they say, all right, we have enough of our members here for a quorum, send the message to the brain to make this person want to go eat some donuts.
Clint: See? I love it. Now, the way that I’ve thought about this in the past, I don’t know if I’ve read this somewhere, I think I might have read in another book about bacteria, but the concept of it’s almost like a chorus that you’d see in an opera. A chorus of singing people, and in this case, singing microbes, and those with the greatest chorus can sing the loudest, and those with the loudest voice can be heard, and the brain picks up the sounds or the signals of the overall chorus sound coming from the largest population of influential bacteria. And if that is bad, then you are going to be influenced, too. And it influences your taste buds as well, not just the signals to the brain, but taste buds so physical . . .
Richard: Absolutely. The system is altered at several levels. The actual transmitting system, which is called the endocannabinoid system, that’s how your body tells your brain if it’s time to eat. And it has a break and gas pedal, leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin, if I remember right, is the one that makes you hungry. And bacteria can alter that communication system to their benefit and make you either not hungry or hungry.
But the actual receptors in your frontal lobes that detect smell and decide is that pleasant, is it not, can I resist it, is it overwhelmingly good – that’s what makes you drive past a McDonald’s and go, wow, that smells good! And after you haven’t eaten it for a few months, you drive past a McDonald’s and you go, oh, my god, that stinks! How does anybody eat that?
Clint: Yeah. Absolutely.
Richard: It’s simply the effect of the bacteria in tuning different parts of your brain to make your behavior something that is good for them
Clint: I can definitely attest to that. Barbeque chicken, I used to walk into a supermarket and they’d have the deli section, and they’d have barbeque chickens there and I used to find it almost impossible to walk past without getting a half or a whole barbeque chicken, and the smell, the cooked skin. I’d take it home and I’d just eat that thing like I was some kind of cave starvation man.
And when I walk past a barbeque chicken now . . . And I must say this has taken some years, at first this was not the case. It’s only now that I find it it smells like a decaying smell to me now. It has putrefied tang to it that I never used to be aware of, and it’s not a smell that I enjoy. It’s not something that’s highly offensive, but it’s like the wrong end of the magnet coming at me, I do not want to go towards it.
Richard: Yes. And I bet that the opposite thing has happened with a number of fruits or vegetables, where a carrot or some vegetable that might have seemed completely uninteresting to you now actually seems sweet, the taste is good.
Clint: Yes. There’s not many plants that I don’t enjoy. And I have an unusual taste for seaweed, particularly Dulse seaweed, I’ve always enjoyed.
Richard: Absolutely. That’s great stuff.
Clint: Yeah. So I’m going to now ask you some more specific stuff about rheumatoid arthritis. Let’s go over some of what we’ve covered. We’ve covered the importance of bacteria and how it can affect our entire body. It can affect the way we think, the way we make decisions on our foods, the bacterial colonies have an ability to sort of act in a group format so that once they have sufficient numbers, which can happen through long uses of taking the wrong foods, or eating wrong foods for long period of time, or through lots of stress, or through eating foods that contain antibiotics, or taking antibiotics directly, all of these things can influence the foods that we want to eat, and also influence the way that our cultures within our gut bacteria thrive, die and populate.
So we understand all that, and we understand how bad it can be to have dysbiosis, and how the gut bacteria can influence our overall health. But let’s now talk about how on a really detailed level, if we could, how the bacteria may be communicating with our immune system. And how the concept of leaky gut exists and potentially even molecular mimicry if you want to go into that direction for us.
Richard: Well, there’s a lot to talk about there. Well, certainty we can look at the immune system and say that one of the things that affects the immune system is the interaction with what are called dendritic cells in the gut. And that is one of the ways that the gut bacteria can get a message through . . . and different aspects of the immune system, we can go into a crazy level of detail as far as what is known.
But for example, you have T regulatory cells that regulate other T immune-active cells like Th17s. And the Th17s are some of the ones that, if I recall correctly, are known to attack joint tissue in rheumatoid arthritis. And they are normally kept in check, and their actions are somewhat balanced by T reg cells, regulatory T cells, and we know that there are many studies that show that what we would consider beneficial gut bacteria such as lactobacillus rhamnosus, for example, increase the level and the activity of T reg cells. So right at the actual immune cell activation, you have a rather direct effect of some gut bacteria.
And of course, in the other direction, when you have a predominance of bad gut bacteria and more leaky gut, you can absorb LPS, lipopolysaccharides, which are fragments of bacterial proteins, and those trigger an immune response that has been described as a cytokine cascade where all of the different inflammatory molecules like TNF alpha, for example, it’s one that comes up quite a bit, their levels can get very elevated, and that runaway inflammatory response can often affect the joints and start triggering the onset of a condition like RA.
Even when there may be, certainly, in some individuals some genetic predilection towards RA, but genes can be turned on, genes can be turned off. And bacteria have been shown to work in what is called and epigenetic fashion. They actually can activate or deactivate different aspects of human DNA, which when you take it all the way down to that level, it makes me think, is there anything at all in the human body that bacteria don’t influence? And I can tell you I haven’t found much that they don’t influence. But genes can be turned on and turned off.
And that’s why very often with autoimmune conditions like RA or multiple sclerosis, for example, that the onset of the condition very often follows either physical trauma, chemical trauma, emotional trauma, something really bad happens to somebody. Not everybody but very often, there’s an event that triggers this. In your case, the vaccinations before you went overseas. In my case, the same thing, vaccination by some Mexican evil bug when I went to Mexico to visit my mother. Still kind of the same thing, though those are life events that sets your immune system on fire, and it never really finds its way back without a lot of help.
One of the things that I would like to mention also that is an additional complicating factor that may make it hard for some people to find their way back is that during the period of inflammation, inflammatory cascade, when you acquire damage to your gut lining, perhaps from taking a lot of NSAIDs, here for example, I use a drug called Diclofenac, I think?
Clint: Yeah, I’m fairly familiar.
Richard: Anyway, it’s another NSAID.
Clint: That’s right, yeah.
Richard: And you can look at all the side effects and prominently one of the side effects is damage to the gut lining, which I look at and say, “Wow. Well, there’s a drug that creates a need for itself just like ibuprofen.” Because damage to the gut lining then reflexively causes more inflammation which makes you want to take more of the stuff if you just continue believing in it.
So during these episodes when you have leaky gut, anything that you eat, you have the risk of developing an antibody reaction, too, because you may absorb molecules of food that have not been completely broken down. And when that molecule of food travels through your circulatory system after being absorbed, your immune system will correctly identify it and say that doesn’t belong here, it must be something invading, and it will tag it with an antibody response. And if it sticks around for just a certain length of time, then your immune system will learn to build antibodies to that food item.
In my case, for example, I’ve tested my blood and I had antibodies to everything – cow dairy, I had antibodies to sodium benzoate, just a variety of things. I think they were about eight or 10 different ones. And it’s important to identify those because even years later, every time you eat that, you get an inflammatory response. This is not necessarily something that is harmful. I mean, one of mine is cilantro. It’s a plant. It’s not just that, it’s a good tasting plant, coriander in its dry form.
And I started realizing that there were whole categories of food that I was reacting to as I tried to fine-tune this and get better. For example, if I went to eat Mexican food, I would find, okay, before I even finished eating, that I was getting a heart burn and my joints were starting to feel stiff. So what could it be?
Well, when you look at it in the way of ingredients, there’s a lot of ingredients in a plate of Mexican food. So I started to look at the timing and realized, I started to feel bad before they even brought the entree. So all I have eaten then is chips and salsa. So I tried eating just the chips and that made me bad. And I tried eating just the salsa and that made me bad. And finally realized that it was the cilantro.
I’ve seen somebody, for example, one of my patients who had a combination. She actually had a lot of joint pain, but she also had a lot of brain symptoms, which people were telling her that it was because of her age because she was, I think, in her 60s. But she was unwilling to accept that, rightfully. But she was taking flaxseed because flaxseed is a great source of Omega 3 and she knew that should reduce her inflammation.
Well, when I did her blood work, lo and behold, she has antibodies to flaxseed, which I really didn’t attribute that much to, but she just squealed and looked at it and said, “Oh, my god, omega 3s! Where am I going to get my omegas? Because I’ve been hurting more and more, and feeling worse and worse. And I keep taking more and more flaxseed to try to help.”
But she had antibodies to flaxseed. So she was actually making herself worse by taking something that would be healthy for most people. For that reason, when the person doesn’t just clear up with some of the first changes that we try to make, I often will suggest doing blood work to identify the actual foods that you might have an immune reaction to.
Richard: It’s very hard to tell how good are we supposed to feel. You keep trying to get better.
Clint: I know. Those are some interesting things. I’ll just share from my perspective with helping people with rheumatoid arthritis. I believe that they have, if we were to look at it up close and be able to put it on the wall, photographs of how the gut looks on a microscopic level, in a lot of cases, it would be a disaster sign, lots of problems. And what I often found myself that I couldn’t eat any food. So all cooked food would cause pain, pretty much, I didn’t really have an ability to break down food at all, it would seem.
And so I did a test called the health Alcat test, which I’m sure you are familiar with. That came back said that I pretty much had no food sensitivity. Everything was green. I had some very small moderates against some things that I never even ate ever, things that I don’t even ever consume. And so that was my first feeling into the marginability or the questionability about some types of food sensitivity tests. And so I caution people about some tests with regards to looking for food sensitivities because I find that then we can get caught up into thinking, okay, well, these are our list of our foods that we should avoid. And then it doesn’t say that I can’t have steak for breakfast so I’m still going to go and have my steak and cheese plate. So we’ve got to be careful about it.
Richard: Exactly. It can really lay a trap for you.
Clint: Yeah, it can really lay a trap.
Richard: It’s not a complete answer. And I don’t know that different labs are all that reputable.
Clint: Right. That’s a problem.
Richard: We use one, they do what’s called an LRA test, Lymphocyte Reactivity Assay, and I seem to get better results with that. But as you said, it’s not a complete answer, but in some people, it might be an additional clue as to something that they might avoid.
Richard: The other thing is a more complete understanding of gluten sensitivity. Some people develop a sensitivity to gluten. And nowadays, in the U.S., here, gluten-free diets have become what I would call a fad diet where a lot of people are on a gluten-free diet but may not need to be. But yet if you really break it down, being on a gluten-free diet is not even as simple as people think it is because gluten itself is comprised of many other proteins, gliadins, most commonly.
And a person can have antibodies to gluten or just a sensitivity to gluten. They can also have sensitivities to just one of the, I think there are 17 different proteins, there may be more than that, but that’s just what I’ve seen on tests. So you can look at all of the other grains that are considered gluten-free. And yes, they are gluten-free, but they may have only one or two of those proteins. And what happens is that it becomes incredibly complex, but the research shows that if you can restore your microbiome and get it working better, then your gut starts to heal and your immune system starts to behave, and many of these things do clear up. So you still have to go back to fixing the microbiome.
If you were to look at the gut lining . . . For example, you said that yours was so reactive that you couldn’t eat any foods at one point, all of those little microvilli that there are lining the gut, when you’ve been that inflamed, all of those have just been like lawn-mowered down, they are not even there. So the nooks and crannies between those microvilli or where healthy bacteria is supposed to live, so you basically have burned the habitat at that point, so it’s almost impossible to sustain healthy bacteria when there’s no habitat for them. And of course, if you haven’t determined the right diet either at that point, you are a long ways from an answer, really.
Clint: Years, it takes so long. Years and years. I had to do eight months of a raw food diet which is eating nothing cooked.
Clint: In fact, I had to consume most of my calories through activated or soaked nuts and seeds because I learned through experimentation that I could tolerate soaked nuts, but I couldn’t tolerate either the raw version of the same nut, or a roasted version of the same nut. And I put it all down to the fats breaking down the fatty acids through the sprouting process, and the proteins breaking down into their amino acids through the sprouting process, so that the amino acids then became harmful at the gut wall. So that was my interpretation.
Richard: Brilliant. You do a brilliant job for somebody that is not in healthcare initially at least. I would venture to say that you’ve done a much better than most of the people I’ve ever known that are in healthcare. So congratulations. Nice work.
Clint: Thank you.
Richard: Well, you started out with an open mind. You just started problem solving and learning, and that’s a brilliant place to start. The problem with many of us that have been trained in healthcare, even chiropractors, is that we’ve been told what to think and how to think. And to some extent, it makes it a little bit more challenging to consider what lives outside of that box that’s been drawn for me. Maybe some of that might be important knowledge as well.
Richard: So good job.
Clint: Thank you. It took eight months on that kind of diet before I could then tolerate just some light, pseudo grains like the buckwheat and quinoa, which became then a staple for a long period of time. And then I was able to start tolerating some rice, and the whole time I was eating salads, like crazy amounts of salads just because the more salad I ate . . .
And keep in mind, no oils because I found out that the oils were inflammatory. And I’ve since developed a strong feeling that the undigested protein present into the blood stream and create more inflammation. The dietary fats, whether they be from oils, where it’s 100% fat, or even high-fat vegetable foods like avocados, or fats from meat products tend to increase the intestinal permeability. And although there is some signs that I have been able to find that supports this, they’ve not been all done with rheumatoid arthritis, but they’ve shown it with some other inflammatory diseases that dietary fats can increase gut permeability.
And I have dozens of email correspondence from people who said, “The moment I stopped putting oils on my salad or by reducing my fat intake, both plant-based, or even from the lean chicken that is said to be lean, is still by calories point of view is 20% to 30% fat because the fat’s in the muscles of the animal. And so the fats somehow tends to increase the gut permeability. So we also need it to be a low-fat diet, and I describe it as the protein intake needs to be adequate, not excessive, because the excess protein is only going to add to the inflammation in the body without actually contributing to anything beneficial for the body as a whole. It becomes a waste product.
So I advocate only an adequate level of protein required for the body, and low-fat. So they are the two areas within a plant-based diet that I think can be made as tweaks that really get outstanding results. Because I want to see people feel tremendous, like, unbelievably well, not just feel a bit better.
And there are other approaches which can be taken that are easier. Obviously we’d love to have fish a couple of nights a week, and maybe have a chicken on a weekend, or something. But I just find that if people want results that blow their mind, and be able to get to a point where their blood inflammation is so low that they can talk to their rheumatologist about potentially lowering some meds, then a low-fat and not excessive protein content, plant-based diet is what I’ve found to be most beneficial.
But within that as well, also have to keep the first period of this to be an elimination process where there’s only a small range foods as well. So there’s no cereal grains, like you mentioned with the wheat. We know that from the studies with people with RA, that a lot of people with RA find the cereal grains highly inflammatory. And also low sugar for a while. We are talking about something that’s designed not to step on any of the land mines that are out there, of which there are multiple because any of the landmines can trigger more inflammation. Do you have any thoughts why dietary fat may influence leaky gut? Have you had some thoughts or done research or looked into that?
Richard: I definitely have some thoughts. I’ve only done limited research in that specific region. My thought is that based on what I’ve read and understand of the system is that when a person gets to the point that you and I were, or certainly where you were, I didn’t get quite as bad, it’s safe to say that your body is no longer processing food in a normal manner. And that comprises a lot of functional changes. You’ve got a loss of microvilli, you’ve got a reduced level of mobility of the gut, you’ve got changes in your gut’s ability to produce enzymes.
Probably also liver changes because the inflammation that happens affects the liver and it results in more of a fatty accumulation in the liver, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, NAFLD is the typical acronym used in the research studies. But when the liver changes that way, it’s not going to be able to produce bile. And without that, insufficient quantities are made correctly, then you are not going to be able to process fats. And anything that you put into the system that doesn’t get digested normally is going to contribute to dysbiosis.
So what you’ve done is to go all the way back to the most basic of things, and start training the body to at least work with that. I think that it may be possible with the correct fats and the correct approach over time to re-introduce healthy fats and not have an inflammatory response. But that’s going to require, without a doubt, it’s going to require and increased level of function of liver and gall bladder. That doesn’t happen overnight. It has to be trained and built back up.
And the relevant beneficial microbes that work on fats, which some of them do, don’t ask me to name one right now, but I know, I’ve read that some of them do, they are going to have to build up in population as well. So it would have to be a very gradual reintroduction, just like you’ve managed to reintroduce some grains and not have some an adverse reaction, it may be possible to reintroduce some healthy fats.
The primary reason that I think that that could be worthwhile as a goal with some people is that if you stay on an extremely low-fat diet for a very long time, some people will become more prone to neurologic issues because our nerves are insulated by fat, and the brain really requires fat. Now, of course, you are getting some fats in vegetables also, but as an extreme example, when children have intractable seizures, parents often are given a choice between two extremes on a good day, some days they are not even explained, not even given the choice. Choice A is remove half of the child’s brain to stop the seizures.
Clint: My god.
Richard: Yeah, exactly. Oh, my god. But they actually still do that and it does stop the seizures. The other thing that’s found to work on many, but probably not all of them, is to put them on an extremely high-fat diet. And in that case, the priority is simply stopping the seizures because there are kids that have seizures almost continuously so they’d basically die if they don’t stop the seizures. And when they are put on a diet that’s almost all fat, it inhibits the seizure activity. And some of them have relatively normal lives, at least as far as brain function and seizure activity. They will get RA or something else down the road but at least they live that long. So that’s an option I know.
I know, for example, that coconut oil has lauric acid, which is quite protective to the nervous system. Although if your gut can’t digest it properly, it just comes out the other end and shows up as a film on top of the water in the toilet. So nothing is going to work in the gut if the hardware, the mechanisms and the organisms that are required to digest it are not all in good working order. The imbalance goes really quite deeply if you look at that, where your system really could almost not digest anything. That’s where you were.
Clint: That’s right. I remember taking fish oil tablets because that’s what we do when we get something like this. The first thing you get told is to take krill oil or fish oil. I used to have almost like a reflex to that to try and digest those oils. It used to keep coming back at me at least 20 times. If I took a few tablets, I’d be sort of regurgitating them for the next couple of hours. They just wouldn’t go down.
Richard: It’s a terrible feeling.
Clint: Terrible. And the taste of it was so disgusting coming back. I just want to add, I think as much for your interest as the listeners’, because I think I’ve pointed this out in most of my blog posts and my mailing list and so forth, but now I can eat anything. And I mean anything. If I wanted to, I could go and have a cheese pizza. I’m repulsed by the idea of doing anything that’s not healthy for me anymore, given the absolute days of hell, agony and really dark thoughts that I went through for many years with this crippling disease. And so I just think it’s worth pointing out is that now I can put an entire avocado and spread on top of that 15 olives also high in fat and then put them on corn chips that have been cooked. You know what I mean? I can eat anything now without inflammation in terms of fat content and protein content.
Richard: So you’ve truly healed your gut.
Richard: That’s brilliant.
Clint: I know no one else can see this, but I mean, look at my hands, I’m showing you on the . . .
Richard: Yes, they look wonderful.
Clint: There’s a slight bend in that guy and that guy because they started to deform before I was able to heal. But the leg that I was unable to walk on, I can now jump up and down. It’s a 100% complete healing but it just took a very, very, very long period of time.
Richard: And you had to break it down to the most basic of things, find something that your system will actually be able to tolerate. And that has to be the starting point. It’s a little bit analogous to the starting point of when somebody has had a broken leg or a broken arm, or even comes out of a coma, well, the thing doesn’t work but a tiny bit. Well, that’s the starting point and you just try to build on it, and build motion, build strength, or in this case, build gut function. And through that, restore immune function to something normal. It’s so wonderful to see somebody else that understands that that can even be done. For example, just this afternoon, I read a study that compared a spice extract, curcumin, which I’m sure you’ve read about, with diclofenac.
Richard: And the study compared the two and compared it to a combination of the two for rheumatoid arthritis. And the researchers were surprised to find that curcumin by itself actually worked better. Of course, you and I look at that and go, yes, because the NSAID damages the gut lining and that’s where this whole wretched mess likely began because that begins in the colon.
Richard: So one of the things that I find perhaps entertaining and sometimes disheartening is how many times I read a brilliant research study, and the last couple of sentences gives away the motive. They’ll say something to the extent that these findings are promising and further studies are needed to identify a target molecule that could be a therapeutic benefit. Meanwhile, I’m looking at the study going, you found something of therapeutic benefit. It worked marvellously.
Clint: There you go.
Richard: But all I see, you’ve revealed your hand to me in what you are trying to do is find the next drug. This is really just a big safari to find the target molecule that we can engineer the next drug, that we can patent to make lots of money. But there’s a catch. When we get that to you, it will be fairly dangerous and extremely expensive, and it may not even as well, but we’ll advertise the dog out of it so that you buy it anyway. What a wonderful business model. And I read these studies and go, wait a minute. The curcumin worked better than your best drug. Back up the train. Let’s just take the curcumin. How about that as a starting point?
Clint: I know. Well, I just checked the time and they say time gets away when you are having fun. I do have a lot more I wanted to ask you, but we’ve covered a lot of territory, lots of wonderful concepts here for people to think about, enough for this particular episode. And maybe down the track, I might get you back to cover some other things that I wanted to go over.
Richard: I would love to do that. We can just call it a part two.
Clint: That would be great because I wanted to ask you the next time just as a teaser, I wanted to ask you all about probiotics and foods that are full of healthy bacteria, and how these bacteria interact with our existing bacteria, and if they make it through these hydrochloric acid of the stomach and all sorts of things. I know people want those answers but we’ve covered tons for this episode. So let’s wrap up there. I want people to go and buy your book. Is the best place to get it to go to Amazon?
Richard: Yes, it is. That’s the easiest place to get it. And it’s available as a printed book and it’s available as an e-book. I know for your listeners, the price structure is a little bit different because of the exchange rate. But I believe that in Australia, Amazon still extends a deal where if you buy the printed book, you can get the e-book quite inexpensively as an add-on if you do it in the same transaction.
The advantages are that, of course, the printed book has the old-fashioned you can take it with you and read it when the power goes out even. But in the e-book, the electronic book, the images that are inside are all in color, which is a bit more entertaining. And the bibliography at the end includes links to the actual research studies or at least to the abstract, where available, so that if you are still connected to your Wi-Fi, that you can just click through that and go to the actual study if you want to read it.
Clint: Let me build on that a little bit. Because I was amazed, in fact, I was so incredibly impressed by how many references you had in your book.
Richard: Thank you.
Clint: The references must go on, I want to take a stab and say 30, 40 pages or something. It’s very comprehensive.
Richard: In the printed book, the bibliography is about a quarter of the book. And that’s actually with me shrinking it down to the smallest font that was rationally legible because Amazon has a limit to the number of pages that you can do, I think it was 486. And I managed to keep it like a page or two below that by reducing the size of the font.
Clint: What it tells me and it tells everyone is how much you back up everything that you’ve put in your book with the scientific literature. And your knowledge on this is just so awesome. And it’s just so exciting for me personally to have a chat with you and to learn from you. And I’m so pleased that our listeners get to also learn from you in the same way, and hopefully again soon. So they can buy your existing book on Amazon. And you are working on another book, too, I believe?
Richard: I am. Tentatively the title may be “The Symbiont Factor Life”. It’s essentially how to use all the concepts that are in “The Symbiont Factor” and apply them to your life. My very initial intent was to write a more comprehensive first book that included a great deal of self-help advice.
But I kept reading, and studying, and researching, and building a bibliography, and writing chapters, and the darned researchers kept publishing more studies. And I realized after a year-and-a-half and several thousand research studies, that I had over a thousand saved in my bibliography, and I would never finish the book if I kept on because they keep publishing more. There is not an end to it. And it was all I could do to keep up with the actual studies that were coming out.
So I decided that if I wrote the book with a self-help section, it would be two or three inches thick, and no one would buy it if I could even get it published. So I elected to just make this first book more about understanding the theory, and the mechanisms, and the importance, and seeing what the research has actually shown us about how symbiont organisms affect us physically, mentally, emotionally, culturally and even on a society-wide level. And then the second book can be about, okay, now that you understand all that, how do you apply it to what do you do about it today?
Clint: Absolutely brilliant. I’ve told all the members of my community to go and get a copy of your book.
Richard: Thank you.
Clint: It’s just really, really great stuff. And if you’ve liked listening to Richard today and learning from him now, you’ll learn even more in his book. And his ability to translate very difficult topics into understandable language is really a gift. So thank you very much for joining us today. And I’ll be in touch again because we’d really like to have you back to cover some more stuff about microbes.
Richard: Well, thank you for having me and I look forward to coming back here and talking about it some more. It’s been my pleasure.
Clint: Thanks, Richard.
Richard: You are welcome. Thank you, Clint.