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The Role of Micronutrients in Optimal Brain Health

Nutrition plays a surprisingly large role in mental health, and a variety of conditions can be treated effectively through holistic supplementation.

Estimated watch time: 48 mins 

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Presentation Materials:

Presenter, Dwight Franklin, DOM is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and owner of Franklin Family Wellness Institute. He is a graduate and former Professor at Florida College of Integrative Medicine, where he received a Master’s of Science in Oriental Medicine. Over the course of his career, Dwight has worked alongside medical doctors in developing wellness programs for both childhood and adult physical and mental health disorders through the practice of Eastern Medicine, Functional Medicine Lab testing, High-Quality Supplementation, Food Therapy, and Lifestyle changes.

Welcome to the Community Education Series, hosted by The Recovery Village and Advanced Recovery Systems.

Brian:
I’m used to in-person events prior to COVID, where I could really engage with folks and not be looking at multiple screens and everyone was in-person. So, this is a little challenging sometimes. I always want to know where people are from and how far you’ve traveled. In this case, we’ve probably traveled a few feet just down the hall to get to our cameras. So, it’s a little less interactive, but we’ll do what we can here. I’m sure many of you have joined our events in the past, and I know Ashley will probably share a little bit more about that. If this is the first time to an event, welcome. We’re glad that you’re here. We do have a community education series that’s running; we also have a CE series that’s running as well. So, make sure that if you haven’t already signed up, please sign up to those events. It’s a great opportunity to engage with the professionals that we have — not only in our local communities, but across the country. And I would encourage you to take a look at therecoveryvillage.com, another one of our websites. It also has our professionals portal on there as well, which I’m sure Ashley always typically covers too, but we’ll try to cover a few things here when we have folks come.

I’ll go ahead and start introductions, and we’ll just continue to roll in. I know your time is important today. I’m Brian Schweitzer, the business development operations manager. I support the team across our entire country. Ashley’s on as well. She’s our events director, and Savannah Eckstrom works directly with Ashley too. So, Savannah and Ashley definitely put a lot of man-hours into making all this happen and making this a successful event for us, so I really appreciate everyone signing on today. Really, here at Advanced Recovery Systems, we’ve been operating addiction and substance abuse treatment centers for adolescents and adults since 2013, and we’ve expanded considerably since then. We have the best-in-class treatment facilities offering a variety of treatment modalities at our various sites and locations. Since about seven years ago, we’ve scaled the nine locations across six states and have recently created partnerships with Baptist Health here in South Florida, which some of you may be familiar with, and also Cooper University Health Care in New Jersey — Cherry Hills, specifically. We have a center also built right outside of DC in partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters to treat the specialized needs of their members as well. 

So, I’m actually going to go ahead and do a bio of Dwight, and then I’ll tell you exactly how I know Dwight. There’s a personal connection here, which I’m so, so grateful for. I’m happy to have a platform for him to share his work and some of his work that he’s done — been doing for the past several years. So, Dwight Franklin, DOM, is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and the owner of Franklin Family Wellness Institute. He’s a graduate and a former professor at Florida College of Integrative Medicine, where he received a Master’s of Science in Oriental Medicine. Over the course of his career, Dwight has worked alongside medicinal doctors in developing wellness programs for both childhood and adult physical and mental health disorders, along with practice of eastern medicine, functional medicine, lab testing and high-quality supplementation for food therapy and lifestyle changes. Really quick, I was gonna make sure I read all that; it’s a lot of accomplishments. I want to get that in.

But also, Dwight came to me on a personal level as well. My therapist here locally had recommended and knew that I was going through various things, and as we were processing significant trauma from my past from addiction, substance use disorder, mental health concerns, abuse — physically and mentally — from my childhood, she had recommended that I see Dwight. And I said, “Well, sure.” So, she shared a little bit about Dwight, and I’ve given Dwight the full go-ahead to share a little bit about my story If it’s applicable today and can help anyone else. I’d love for it to have that opportunity. But really, for me, I experienced about a year ago — for the first time of a person in long-term recovery for 10 years — but about a year ago, I went through some severe depression and was very much unlike myself. At the time, I was living in Ohio. I passed it off as seasonal affective disorder, sat by my happy lamp every day. But the happy lamp wasn’t pulling me through. So, I had shifted to some different medications, ultimately not working. 

I reached kind of a point of despair and really wanted to dig deep and learn more about integrative approaches, how it could help me, how it could best benefit. And I met Dwight probably — I don’t know, we’ve been working together for maybe three or four months at this point. In the process of that, I’ve learned a whole host of things that I’m falling short on — chemicals in my brain. You know, the more I journal about it, I can see this going back for years, if not decades, into my childhood and my formative years and adolescent years. So for me, this has been something that’s very, very personal, and this is something that has had a large impact on me. I think, as a person in long-term recovery, we enter recovery and the onion of life continues to peel. Additional things continue to open up, and Dwight has been an absolute miracle man to me. And I’m just so grateful to really have my brain back on track or, well, on its way to back on track. So, I’ll go ahead and turn it over to Dwight, but if you have any further questions for us, I would encourage you guys to leave that information in the chat today or share at the end. We’d love to learn more about you and your practices and how we can better serve you individually too. Go ahead, Dwight. 

Dwight:
Thank you so much, Brian. I really appreciate that. I just really appreciate Advanced Recovery Systems for having me today, and Brian for setting all this up with everybody. It just means a lot to me to be able to share what I do. I specialize in working with kids, but I work with adults as well. I am the owner of Franklin Family Wellness Institute, and we take a lot of different approaches at the institute. I work a lot with functional medicine labs, which I’ll talk about momentarily, but therapy, supplementation, and then some hands-on therapies as well, along with lifestyle changes. But I think what makes me a little bit different than your typical Doctor of Oriental Medicine is that I have worked alongside medical doctors and done so very well. I have found that a lot of medical doctors are wonderful at implementing some of the things that I do; they just need to know about it. So, I have worked alongside pediatricians and psychiatrists. I kinda got my start working for a psychiatrist since I worked with brain health, but love what I do — love helping kids.

I do have to put out this disclaimer that these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this webinar is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk a little bit about what I do. 

At the institute, I have designed wellness programs that are very individualized and customized. I’ve had the privilege of helping many kids and adults with brain health concerns, such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, lack of focus, hyperfocusing — yes, hyperfocusing is a problem in today’s world — low motivation, sadness, stress management. Although I don’t have an addiction program specifically and I can’t say that I treat addictions, I do know that a lot of the symptoms above are common causes of self-medicating. I got into this wellness institute and everything that I do — honestly, I got into it trying to help people because, just like Brian was saying, I was a child that needed help myself. I struggled with incredible stress, social anxiety as a kid, not knowing what to say, how to say it to my peers, feeling like I didn’t fit in. A lot of just the fatigue, couldn’t focus, was falling asleep in class, had lots of depression because of all these things. I grew up in a small town in Kentucky, and I laugh about this — I don’t know how I ended up doing what I do for a living, because it sure was not a route that you would normally go into, coming from Madisonville, Kentucky. 

Nonetheless, I just think back to all of the things that I went through and then what that became as a young adult and how I tried to calm that mind down — that mind that never shut off. I tried to calm it down with alcohol through binge drinking, and it worked momentarily, and then I would wake up the next morning and that brain would be back on and I would be horrified by the things that I said and that rebound effect. And I just wish — you can’t look back, but you just wish that someone had been able to step in and understand what I was going through so that some of those things in my young-adult life never had to happen or would have been less likely to happen. So, my goal is to really intervene with both kids who are struggling now or adults who have been struggling for many years. I want to intervene and help them with whatever they may be going through with their brain health concerns. That may be food addictions, alcoholism, smoking addictions, opioid addictions, prior heavy drug use. But in reality, what I’m really looking at is a symptomology that they’re presenting, and what does their brain need to function optimally? 

So, the purpose of this webinar is to help the public better understand how micronutrients greatly impact brain health and to understand how specialty lab testing and individualized nutraceuticals — that’s the key word there, individualized — can achieve optimal brain health for children and adults struggling with mental and emotional health concerns. So, you guys may understand this: As a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, I am not the first person that a parent or an adult patient calls when they are struggling with their child or their own mental and emotional health. I’m usually, like, the 10th person that they call. So, I have patients that have gone through just about everything. They have tried just about everything. It’s rare that I see that parent that has a kid that’s just having some minor issues and they just want to really just concentrate and get that situation corrected right in the here and now. It is usually that they have gone through so much already. Through specialty lab testing, nutraceuticals, food therapy, I have seen a lot of these health concerns resolved or greatly lessened. So, this is — I want you guys to really understand this — I’m not working with people who just have a little minor stress or the kid who just has a little bit of a minor issue at school. Maybe they normally get A’s, but now they got B’s. I’m dealing with kids that are about to get kicked out of school. I’m dealing with adults who have suffered with mental health concerns for years. And I still get results. 

So, parents and adults fear often that their problems are too big, too great for supplements and diet changes to make any difference. I hear that all the time; you know, “Dr. Dwight, you don’t know what we’re going through. It’s just too big. My kid hurt another kid at school,” or, “I went through this as a young person and it’s really affecting me.” And I do understand — I do greatly understand, and my heart goes out to those families. But what they don’t understand, typically, is that the supplementation given and diet changes made to have a great impact on the brain have to be consistent and specific to that child or adult. So, you may have tried omega-3s before because you heard it was good for the brain. You heard it was good for feelings of depression. You may have tried things like essential oils because you heard they were great for stress relief, but consistency is key — and understanding exactly what your body needs. You may be missing some things. You may not have had the appropriate lab testing to know exactly what your brain needs to be functioning at optimal levels. You may have only hit one of the concerns that your brain has. There might be multiple. 

Brian shared his story, and I will cover a little bit about Brian here later on in the presentation. But just for right now, I will say that they were only hitting a couple of the parameters that Brian was going through — not the whole spectrum. And once we start to really hit it on all levels, that’s when you see the results start to happen. So, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to brain health, and high-quality supplementation is vastly superior than what you will find at your local drug store or grocery store. Maybe you took an omega-3, but maybe it was from CVS, and not only was it a rancid fish oil, maybe it also was not at the appropriate dosage to be effective. Because they just kind of expect that a person’s just going to grab a fish oil and not really know what they’re exactly they’re taking. So, it may be at a very low dose where you need about 1500 milligrams of DHA and EPA fish oil; they may be giving you 600 milligrams. So, it’s gotta be the right dosage and it’s gotta be the right quality — no binders, fillers, food dyes. All those things play an effect on how that supplement may work for you. So, I want to talk about the different parts of the brain and what each part does, ‘cause it’ll go a long way in describing everything else that we’ll talk about later.

So, the brain: You have the frontal lobe, and it’s really all about movement. And then the prefrontal cortex is housed within the frontal lobe, and it deals with focus, planning and understanding consequences. So, in both children and adults — I think the children, you really see it possibly a lot more. You tell them not to do something a hundred times; they even get consequences for it, and they don’t get it. They keep repeating the same problem over and over and over again, same bad behavior, right? Impulse control. It helps to control impulse control. It’s the most dopamine-sensitive part of the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for focus, motivation and so on, and it also helps with impulse control. The parietal lobe: It processes sensory information, language processing, taste and texture. I’ll see a lot of kids who they don’t like — I do a lot of hands-on therapies, particularly craniosacral therapy, which is a light-touch therapy that deals with brain health — they will get really antsy when I’d use that light touch on them. That’s a sensory processing disorder. You may find that they don’t like to be hugged or they don’t like to be touched. It’s a sensory processing issue, which is the parietal lobe — too much stimulation in this parietal lobe.

You also might find that they have lots of taste and texture issues. So, I may want all day long for that kid to start eating, let’s say, avocado or some green foods, but the taste and the texture is too sensory-exciting to them for them to be able to handle it. So, we have to reduce that stimulation in the parietal lobe for them to be able to make those transitions to new foods. Temporal lobe — all about auditory processing, language comprehension, long-term memories, processing emotions and mood stability. Now, this all can be an issue with adults, but I see it most with my autistic kids that I work with. You guys have worked with autistic kids or have an autistic child, you’ll know that they cover their ears when the loud noises are happening. It may not even be that loud, but to them, it is. That’s an auditory processing issue, where the stimulation is just too excessive. You’ll also see issues with mood stability. They’ll have meltdowns very often. So, that’s a temporal lobe concern. And then the occipital lobe — just to throw it in for good measure — is all about vision and visual memory.

Now, there’s a couple other parts of the brain that really go a long way when helping to understand what people are going through with addictions, and that is the basal ganglia. It helps to produce dopamine and it sets the body’s anxiety levels. It integrates thoughts, feelings and movements. It’s why you jump when you’re nervous and freeze when you’re scared. If you have too much input into the basal ganglia, too much stimulation, you will lock up. That’s what was happening to me when I was a child; I know that now. I didn’t know that back then, obviously, but I know that now. When I would lock up when people would try to make conversation with me because I was too scared of saying the wrong thing or doing whatever it may have been, that was too much stimulation into the basal ganglia. However, too little input, a person will move excessively with stressful situations. You see this a lot with ADHD kids. They don’t have enough input. So, they always say that in emergency situations, ADHD people are the best because they run towards danger, right? That’s a basal ganglia issue. So, that child or that adult will need extra input into the basal ganglia, and that will help them to understand and recognize dangerous situations and also will help them to just relax a bit. 

The cingulate gyrus is involved with air detection and shifting attention. We see this a lot with autistic kids, but you also see it a lot with people with obsessive-compulsive issues. Too much input, the person will be stuck in a really difficult mindset of not being able to look through problems, being able to work through problems and then get over to doing what they need to do in life. They will just constantly be churning on and ruminating on those problems. With kids, it may be that they have found a certain toy or a certain video game that they like playing, and they will not be able to shift their attention to anything else. So, that’s the cingulate gyrus. Now, let’s talk about neurotransmitters. Let’s go over the excitatory ones first. Dopamine: At appropriate levels, it will help you to have focus and drive. It will also help you to have self-control. At low levels however, it will cause inattention, it will cause poor self-control. At excess levels, it will cause agitation, anger, hyperfocusing where you are just focusing on every little thing in your life and you just can’t even begin to have a good time with life because you’re just hyperfocusing on everything, right? It’s closely related to the brain’s reward system. 

Norepinephrine and epinephrine, at appropriate levels, is all about alertness. It promotes vigilance, enhances information retrieval, memory. At low levels, you lack drive, you lack perseverance, and at excess levels, you’ll be very anxious. And then, finally, glutamate levels. At appropriate levels, they’re very important for learning and memory, but at excess levels, they become an excitotoxin — actually, dopamine does as well. It actually will damage neurons, and it makes emotions very erratic. You will find these glutamates in foods as an additive; it’s called MSG, monosodium glutamate. So, two things may be happening when a person has excess levels of glutamate. Either they’re not breaking down that glutamate into other chemicals, which we’ll talk about later, or they are getting it through their diet. MSG: You guys probably know MSG because it’s commonly thought of as it gives you headaches and migraines, right? The reason it does that is because it’s an excitatory to the brain. Too much stimulation. So, really watch, really look at the packaging labels of your foods that you’re eating, especially seasonings and processed foods. Look and see if it has MSG in it. If you go out to restaurants, ask if they have it — especially if you have kids, ‘cause they tend to be a lot more sensitive.

Inhibitory neurotransmitters are your serotonin. At appropriate levels, you’re happy, you have a sense of well-being. At low levels, you can be sad, you can withdraw from others. You can have obsessive-compulsive behaviors when that’s combined with high dopamine levels. So with this, you have high dopamine so you’re going to be focusing very intently, but you don’t have the serotonin to balance that out. And at excess levels, you will become manic, obviously. GABA — very appropriate for calmness and relaxation. At low levels, you’re going to be anxious, high stress, you have an inability to handle stress. You will always be worried. Then at excess levels, you’ll have fatigue and low motivation. So, none of these chemicals are good or bad; they just need to be at the right, appropriate levels for brain balance. 

Now, here are the neural labs that I do at my office. They are a simple urine test. I sometimes run labs where it requires blood work, and my kids obviously do not like that, but this one’s very simple. I usually start off my potential patients with these labs just to see where they are. Now, this was a little girl — I believe she was about seven years old when we did this — and we found that her serotonin and GABA levels were both low. Her dopamine was high and her epinephrine was low. So, let me go through that step-by-step. This little girl, she could tell you every little detail about how she felt in her body. She would say that she felt a sensation right here in her left shoulder, and Dr. Dwight is really bothering me, and it was just so well-described that no seven-year-old should really be that in tune with every little detail of every little thing happening in their body and in the outside world. 

This little girl held a lot of grudges. She could not get over the fact that her mother had another child and that some of the attention that used to go to her was now going to her younger sister. She loved her younger sister, but she held that grudge very strongly. She could not let go of it. However, she also had very low enthusiasm for life, and she had a very hard time getting out the doors in the morning. They may have 15 minutes to get to school, but that little girl would sit there and just take her sweet time, getting anything done before they had to walk out the door. So, here we have high dopamine, which is the reasoning why she is so hyperfocused on everything that she’s feeling in her body. And then we have low serotonin and low GABA. This girl also had a lot of anxiety, stress issues, but the low serotonin combined with the high dopamine was the reasoning why she had such compulsions. The low epinephrine here, epinephrine is that fight-or-flight mechanism, right? It makes you say, “Oh my God, I only got 15 minutes to get somewhere.” Well, hers was low, so she didn’t have that going on quite so much. So, she took her time when everybody else is stressed and thinking they’re going to be late. And then — I want you guys to put a pin in this because we’re going to talk about it more here in a minute — but her norepinephrine-epinephrine ratio was very high. You see how her norepinephrine levels were normal, but her epinephrine levels were low. Put a pin in that. We’re going to talk about it here in a little bit.

This was a little autistic child. Here we have high, high dopamine levels. Double the average glutamate levels. This little child was nonverbal, had only really eaten McDonald’s chicken nuggets for the last couple of years. He had extreme meltdowns, and when I first saw this child, his nails were cracking, he had dark circles underneath his eyes — both are nutrient deficiencies. Like I said, he had such stimulation in his brain that he couldn’t eat other foods. It was too much of a task for his brain to handle. So, we started him off on the right supplementation. What ended up happening was within the first week, this child who never ate anything but McDonald’s chicken nuggets was now eating apples. Never happened before. That may not sound like a big deal, but that is nutrition that that kid was not getting before, and that mom called me crying because she had never seen her child eat anything other than McDonald’s chicken nuggets. What that shows me is that we were able to reduce the levels of these excitatory neurotransmitters and help that child feel a little bit more at ease in his own body. 

I didn’t quite get to what happened with the little girl at age seven. She is now doing phenomenal. She is doing things that her parents never really thought she would do before. She’s more relaxed. She’s able to associate better with her peers. Things have just really turned around for her as well. I promise, guys, in just a moment, I’m going to show you how I do this, how I get these results. This was a 58-year-old female. She had incredibly low serotonin, incredibly low GABA. Dopamine, epinephrine and glutamates were all very, very low. This particular lady, her mother had just died. Now, she had had a lot of concerns with mental health for many, many years. She was on a medication and she was basically feeling stable at the very least. Well, mom died and then — she greatly loved her mother, and then that — she really spiraled downward, and that’s what made her call me. So, when I showed her these labs, she actually started crying because, as we see, the dopamine and epinephrine levels are very low here, and I was able to explain to her that she’s not lazy. 

She was always being told she was just lazy. She should just get over and she should be more productive and she should find things that help her feel better about life. And she just didn’t even understand what they were talking about, really. But she started crying because she’d always been called lazy, and here, I can show her that she does not have the chemical ability to really have a lot of motivation right now. That within itself was very helpful for her. We also have the low serotonin, so she had very hard times with sadness — a low GABA, so she had lots of anxiety as well. Then once again, we have that norepinephrine-epinephrine ratio, which is very high here. So, this lady has now done very, very well with the right supplementation and right diet plan. She’s feeling much, much better. She’s feeling much, much more active in life. She started doing certain — changing careers now into something that she really wants to do and has always wanted to do but she never felt like she could. So yeah, we have gotten great success with her as well. She’s doing great. Then finally, Brian let you guys know that I could share his NeuroLab. So, this is Brian. Once again, we are low across the board here. And Brian let you guys know that he had gone through some traumatic experiences. He was having some severe problems sleeping at night. He was having anxiety. He was having focus and energy issues, and they’re all interrelated, but he was low and everything.

He was, like I said before, he was taking something, but it was only addressing the serotonin and norepinephrine; everything else was kind of left out. He may have felt some better on that, but it wasn’t addressing the whole situation. So now, we have Brian on the right supplementation that is addressing the serotonin, GABA, dopamine, everything. And we’re starting to see improvements in sleep. We’re starting to see improvements in anxiety. We’re starting to see improvements in his focus and energy levels. And we’re also working on some gut health issues that have also been a concern of his — some mold toxicity and things of that nature — which can also contribute to some of these concerns. And we’re starting to work and unravel these layers of concerns that he has had for many, many years. It really makes me feel incredibly hopeful for people when we see these kinds of results happen because Brian had not the same story as myself, but we both felt insecure growing up. We both felt like we didn’t know how to fit in, and to have understanding of how these things work — that these kids can truly get help at that age and they can get help as adults as well if they’ve already gone through those experiences — is just remarkable and makes me feel wonderful about what I do. 

I promised you I would show you how we make this all work. Now, the subject matter of this presentation is how micronutrients affect neurotransmitters. So, let me show — I’m going to give you the breakdown now of how these neurotransmitters are made. They don’t just happen. They’re not just there. There’s all kinds of new terminology — not new terminology, but it’s been around a long time — but everybody knows about chemical imbalances. The problem with that is that people just think that if you have a chemical imbalance, you just have it and that’s just what it is. Well, when you understand how these neurotransmitters are made, you understand that you might just be missing some of the very valuable ingredients that make those neurotransmitters. So, here we have L-tyrosine; it is an amino acid. It’s a protein from food or supplement. When you combine that with iron, a coenzyme called BH4 and niacin (which is vitamin B3), you get something called L-dopa. When you combine L-dopa with vitamin B6, you get dopamine. So, you may have a person who is vegan who is having an incredible time focusing and they’re just not getting enough iron because they’re missing the component. You can’t make these neurotransmitters without these ingredients; it’s not possible. 

So, they may just be missing some things in their diet, whether it’s through food or supplementation, that’s going to help them make this dopamine. Then when you add vitamin C and copper to dopamine, you get norepinephrine. So, imagine this: You have a child who just, like, will not eat any kind of fruit whatsoever. Will not. They just get no vitamin C at all. Well, it’s not possible to make norepinephrine without the appropriate vitamin C levels. So, they may be less alert. They may not be focusing well. Then finally, you add something called SAM-e. It’s going to take a minute for me to go over this one. SAM-e is a chemical that is derived from the methylation process. You guys might’ve heard about methylation, some of you may not have. Methylation is a chemical process where your body takes a methyl group and donates it to a substrate or another chemical. It does that because it helps the process of detoxification, helps the process of building neurotransmitters, but it’s like building a house. You have to have the drywall, you have to have screws and nails and shingles and all these things to build a house. 

So, this is part of that production. SAM-e is a chemical that is made in your body when you have the appropriate methylation processes happening. But here’s the kicker: About 50% of the population, due to genetics, don’t methylate the way that they should. So, they may not be making this SAM-e the way that they should. That will cause a few different things. No. 1: SAM-e, when combined with norepinephrine, becomes epinephrine. You need epinephrine, but also, this tells me a lot about how that person’s body’s functioning. So, when I’m going to go back — and told you to put a pin in it — when I go back and take a look at those people who had high norepinephrine, or had an adequate norepinephrine but low epinephrine, it tells me they’re not making SAM-e. It also tells me that their methylation pathways are not what they should be. And that tells me that they’re not detoxifying well, because it’s part of the process, and it tells me that they’re not making the neurotransmitters like they should be. 

So, I hear this a lot from parents and adults as well. They’ll say things like, “Dwight, our kid — we eat relatively healthy, and they’re still struggling. They’re still struggling with focus. They’re still struggling with impulsivity, and the kid down the street — they eat McDonald’s all the time and they’re doing great. They’re getting good grades in school and they’re the life of every birthday party. Why is that? How come?” What my answer to that is their genetics are different. They can handle a lot more than what your child can or what you can, if you’re an adult patient. Where that child can eat McDonald’s every day of the week, your child may not be able to eat McDonald’s one day a week without having some severe consequences to their brain and emotional health. So, you gotta understand how these genetic issues work and how we can help that person to achieve the same set of goals and same set of — you know, get to right where that kid is down the street. But they’re going to have to work a little harder at it. 

You guys know that crude oil makes gasoline, right? Well, you wouldn’t go and put crude oil into your car. Now, the same thing happens in your body. Your body has to take these vitamins, these minerals, these proteins, and they have to break them down appropriately to make something that’s useful for your body. And if it’s not doing it correctly due to genetic issues, then the person is going to struggle. So, it is my job to help people understand those things and to help get them back on track. There we have L-tryptophan — with vitamin C, folate, niacin, iron, calcium, it becomes 5-HTP. Then you add B6, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium — which about 50% of the population may be deficient in magnesium — and you’re going to get serotonin. So, it may be that you’re just not eating enough magnesium in your diet or not getting enough Vitamin C. That might be the reason that your serotonin levels are low and you’re feeling unhappy. And then we have SAM-E once again, and you get melatonin. Once again, your methylation concerns may be a reason that you’re not producing melatonin and you’re not getting the sleep that you need. I know this is a little bit complicated, but just know the reason I bring this up is because I want you guys to understand that without these vitamins, minerals and amino acids, you cannot get these neurotransmitters. So, it’s not just a simple, “Well, you have a chemical imbalance and that’s all it is.” No, there are ways that we can help through diet and supplementation.

Last one here: L-glutamine becomes glutamate. Then, with the right amount of magnesium and B6, we get GABA. So, here we have glutamate, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter. But if you add the right magnesium and B6, you get GABA, which is a relaxation neurotransmitter. So, that child with autism — they had incredibly high glutamate levels and they were only eating chicken nuggets. I can promise you there’s no magnesium in chicken nuggets, so they were lacking in that magnesium. And once we supplied that to that child, they produced more GABA and they were feeling better.  

Last but not least here, I want to describe this. It’s a long, complicated terminology here, but I want you guys to understand when people tell you to eat your greens, they’re not just saying it because it’s just the hippie terminology that we just need to eat more greens. No, there’s reasons biochemically behind it. So, we call this the folate cycle. B9, also called folate, equals green leafy vegetables in food form. You combine that with B3, it becomes dihydrofolate. I’m not going to go through all these, but I want you guys to understand that at the end of this process, you get the toxification and you get neurotransmitter production. So, when I have a family that comes into me with a child that says, “Oh, he’ll never touch any greens,” and I ask, “Well, does he supplement? Do you supplement with him?” “No, we don’t do any supplements either.” There’s not a possible way that this kid can be detoxifying properly or can be producing the right kinds of neurotransmitters. So, whether it’s through green leafy veggies or it’s through the right kind of supplementation, you have to provide the brain and the body these. I’ll also say this: A lot of processed foods are fortified with something called folic acid. That is the synthetic form of B9; it does not work the same way as methylfolate. It’s not methylated. And as I said before, a large percentage of the population does not methylate properly. So, please avoid those synthetic B vitamins like folic acid or cyanocobalamin. Those are not going to be helpful with your child or with yourself; make sure that it is a methylated form.

Now, other considerations that we have for brain health is, No. 1, inflammation. I have never seen anything be more inflammatory to the brain than food dyes. I had a child who actually choked a kid in school — pinned him up against a tree and was choking him — and he had several other instances of acting out in school. About to get kicked out of school. We were able to trace his problematic behavior to food dyes. He was on a small amount of medication. There was guanfacine, which is an ADHD medication, and he was doing great along with some diet changes. I didn’t put him on the guanfacine — that was the pediatrician. I’m not allowed to work with pharmaceuticals. But he was doing great, phenomenal. And then the manufacturer of his guanfacine changed, and instead of a little white pill, it started becoming a little orange pill. Within the week, he was acting out in school, getting angry. He even told his mom, “Mom, it feels like my brain’s on fire.” Me and the pediatrician were able to find a guanfacine that did not have the food dyes in it through another pharmacy, and his behavior went right back to normal. 

So, that’s a tiny — he was taking a small, small pill. That’s not much. Imagine the kids that are starting off their school day with a big bowl of Lucky Charms, which is nothing but food dyes and those marshmallows. That is a lot more, and that’s going to be a lot more problematic. Sugar, obviously — starchy foods like white potato, breads, pasta. Those can cause a lot of sugar fluctuations in the body because they’ll start just breaking down into sugar, and they will have an initial spike in energy and then they’ll plummet, and then they’ll get moody. You guys who have been hungry — you guys know what it’s like when you have your sugar crash on you. You’re not pleasant to be around, are you? No. Kids, who have a lot less self-control — they’re even less pleasant to be around when they’re having sugar fluctuation. 

Food allergies and sensitivities: IGE and IGG food allergy and sensitivity labs is something I do at the office often. We can see which foods are causing an immune response within the body and causing an inflammation response within the body. That is going to help us to be able to eliminate those foods for a time while that child heals — heals their gut, heals their immune system — and it will go a long way in their mental and emotional health. Gut health — are there beneficial bacteria? We all know that there are reasons for antibiotics; however, we have to understand what those beneficial bacteria do for us. When you take an antibiotic, it kills off all the beneficial bacteria — so, beneficial bacteria responsible for growth and development. It also plays a factor in creating neurotransmitters. It also helps our immune system. It protects our gut by not allowing harmful chemicals to get into the bloodstream. It does so much for us. So, when we take an antibiotic, we have to make sure we’re replacing it with the right kind of probiotic, and it needs to be a high-quality one or there can be concern. This was something that Brian was struggling with as well. It can really cause feelings of fatigue, cause feelings of brain fog. 

So, we need to take appropriate responses of eating the right foods and taking the right supplementation for the candida if that’s an issue. We usually find these things out with a comprehensive stool analysis, where they will be able to see what bacteria is in the stool. What’s missing in the stool, bacteria-wise? Is there any sort of candida there? It’s incredible at helping us decipher what means we need to go forward with. And then, last but not least, excessive use of electronics. Electronics, especially video computer games — iPads are constant stimulation to the brain. They overwhelm the brain with dopamine, and what will happen is the child will have no dopamine left over for things like their math homework. If that child just saved the world in a video game, are they going to be concerned about doing their math homework? No. You will also see this cause a lot of compulsion issues as well. You can’t change the world that we live in. We live in a very modern age, so just understand that. Just make limits, whether it’s for yourself or it’s for your child. I just put limits on it and see what the breaking point is on how it affects their behavior. 

This is how I start my patients. Typically, we start with the neurotransmitter testing, which is the urine test — very non-invasive. It allows us to see where the excesses or deficiencies are, and those neurotransmitters. Then we will set up a review for that patient. They’ll get my interpretations, and if they choose to do so, they will be able to move into one of my customized wellness programs that will get to the heart of the matter. We’ll get them all the help they need to start feeling better.

With that said, this is my contact information; guys, please email me with any questions that you have. I’m going to answer any questions that are in the chatbox here as well. Like me on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve got some online programs coming out as well. So, just look for that, and I greatly appreciate Advanced Recovery Systems and all you guys for attending tonight or today. I appreciate you all. Thank you, guys.

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.

Objectives and Summary:

This webinar will assist individuals dealing with mental health concerns, including addictions. We will share a holistic way of looking at brain health while providing science-based yet natural solutions for various mental health concerns.

After watching this presentation, the viewer will:

  • Better understand how nutrition greatly impacts the neurotransmitter levels in the brain
  • Understand how specialty lab testing can give them answers they have been looking for in their mental health needs
  • Understand the role of nutraceuticals in achieving optimal brain health

Presentation Materials:

Presenter, Dwight Franklin, DOM is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and owner of Franklin Family Wellness Institute. He is a graduate and former Professor at Florida College of Integrative Medicine, where he received a Master’s of Science in Oriental Medicine. Over the course of his career, Dwight has worked alongside medical doctors in developing wellness programs for both childhood and adult physical and mental health disorders through the practice of Eastern Medicine, Functional Medicine Lab testing, High-Quality Supplementation, Food Therapy, and Lifestyle changes.

Welcome to the Community Education Series, hosted by The Recovery Village and Advanced Recovery Systems.

Brian:
I’m used to in-person events prior to COVID, where I could really engage with folks and not be looking at multiple screens and everyone was in-person. So, this is a little challenging sometimes. I always want to know where people are from and how far you’ve traveled. In this case, we’ve probably traveled a few feet just down the hall to get to our cameras. So, it’s a little less interactive, but we’ll do what we can here. I’m sure many of you have joined our events in the past, and I know Ashley will probably share a little bit more about that. If this is the first time to an event, welcome. We’re glad that you’re here. We do have a community education series that’s running; we also have a CE series that’s running as well. So, make sure that if you haven’t already signed up, please sign up to those events. It’s a great opportunity to engage with the professionals that we have — not only in our local communities, but across the country. And I would encourage you to take a look at therecoveryvillage.com, another one of our websites. It also has our professionals portal on there as well, which I’m sure Ashley always typically covers too, but we’ll try to cover a few things here when we have folks come.

I’ll go ahead and start introductions, and we’ll just continue to roll in. I know your time is important today. I’m Brian Schweitzer, the business development operations manager. I support the team across our entire country. Ashley’s on as well. She’s our events director, and Savannah Eckstrom works directly with Ashley too. So, Savannah and Ashley definitely put a lot of man-hours into making all this happen and making this a successful event for us, so I really appreciate everyone signing on today. Really, here at Advanced Recovery Systems, we’ve been operating addiction and substance abuse treatment centers for adolescents and adults since 2013, and we’ve expanded considerably since then. We have the best-in-class treatment facilities offering a variety of treatment modalities at our various sites and locations. Since about seven years ago, we’ve scaled the nine locations across six states and have recently created partnerships with Baptist Health here in South Florida, which some of you may be familiar with, and also Cooper University Health Care in New Jersey — Cherry Hills, specifically. We have a center also built right outside of DC in partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters to treat the specialized needs of their members as well. 

So, I’m actually going to go ahead and do a bio of Dwight, and then I’ll tell you exactly how I know Dwight. There’s a personal connection here, which I’m so, so grateful for. I’m happy to have a platform for him to share his work and some of his work that he’s done — been doing for the past several years. So, Dwight Franklin, DOM, is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and the owner of Franklin Family Wellness Institute. He’s a graduate and a former professor at Florida College of Integrative Medicine, where he received a Master’s of Science in Oriental Medicine. Over the course of his career, Dwight has worked alongside medicinal doctors in developing wellness programs for both childhood and adult physical and mental health disorders, along with practice of eastern medicine, functional medicine, lab testing and high-quality supplementation for food therapy and lifestyle changes. Really quick, I was gonna make sure I read all that; it’s a lot of accomplishments. I want to get that in.

But also, Dwight came to me on a personal level as well. My therapist here locally had recommended and knew that I was going through various things, and as we were processing significant trauma from my past from addiction, substance use disorder, mental health concerns, abuse — physically and mentally — from my childhood, she had recommended that I see Dwight. And I said, “Well, sure.” So, she shared a little bit about Dwight, and I’ve given Dwight the full go-ahead to share a little bit about my story If it’s applicable today and can help anyone else. I’d love for it to have that opportunity. But really, for me, I experienced about a year ago — for the first time of a person in long-term recovery for 10 years — but about a year ago, I went through some severe depression and was very much unlike myself. At the time, I was living in Ohio. I passed it off as seasonal affective disorder, sat by my happy lamp every day. But the happy lamp wasn’t pulling me through. So, I had shifted to some different medications, ultimately not working. 

I reached kind of a point of despair and really wanted to dig deep and learn more about integrative approaches, how it could help me, how it could best benefit. And I met Dwight probably — I don’t know, we’ve been working together for maybe three or four months at this point. In the process of that, I’ve learned a whole host of things that I’m falling short on — chemicals in my brain. You know, the more I journal about it, I can see this going back for years, if not decades, into my childhood and my formative years and adolescent years. So for me, this has been something that’s very, very personal, and this is something that has had a large impact on me. I think, as a person in long-term recovery, we enter recovery and the onion of life continues to peel. Additional things continue to open up, and Dwight has been an absolute miracle man to me. And I’m just so grateful to really have my brain back on track or, well, on its way to back on track. So, I’ll go ahead and turn it over to Dwight, but if you have any further questions for us, I would encourage you guys to leave that information in the chat today or share at the end. We’d love to learn more about you and your practices and how we can better serve you individually too. Go ahead, Dwight. 

Dwight:
Thank you so much, Brian. I really appreciate that. I just really appreciate Advanced Recovery Systems for having me today, and Brian for setting all this up with everybody. It just means a lot to me to be able to share what I do. I specialize in working with kids, but I work with adults as well. I am the owner of Franklin Family Wellness Institute, and we take a lot of different approaches at the institute. I work a lot with functional medicine labs, which I’ll talk about momentarily, but therapy, supplementation, and then some hands-on therapies as well, along with lifestyle changes. But I think what makes me a little bit different than your typical Doctor of Oriental Medicine is that I have worked alongside medical doctors and done so very well. I have found that a lot of medical doctors are wonderful at implementing some of the things that I do; they just need to know about it. So, I have worked alongside pediatricians and psychiatrists. I kinda got my start working for a psychiatrist since I worked with brain health, but love what I do — love helping kids.

I do have to put out this disclaimer that these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this webinar is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk a little bit about what I do. 

At the institute, I have designed wellness programs that are very individualized and customized. I’ve had the privilege of helping many kids and adults with brain health concerns, such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, lack of focus, hyperfocusing — yes, hyperfocusing is a problem in today’s world — low motivation, sadness, stress management. Although I don’t have an addiction program specifically and I can’t say that I treat addictions, I do know that a lot of the symptoms above are common causes of self-medicating. I got into this wellness institute and everything that I do — honestly, I got into it trying to help people because, just like Brian was saying, I was a child that needed help myself. I struggled with incredible stress, social anxiety as a kid, not knowing what to say, how to say it to my peers, feeling like I didn’t fit in. A lot of just the fatigue, couldn’t focus, was falling asleep in class, had lots of depression because of all these things. I grew up in a small town in Kentucky, and I laugh about this — I don’t know how I ended up doing what I do for a living, because it sure was not a route that you would normally go into, coming from Madisonville, Kentucky. 

Nonetheless, I just think back to all of the things that I went through and then what that became as a young adult and how I tried to calm that mind down — that mind that never shut off. I tried to calm it down with alcohol through binge drinking, and it worked momentarily, and then I would wake up the next morning and that brain would be back on and I would be horrified by the things that I said and that rebound effect. And I just wish — you can’t look back, but you just wish that someone had been able to step in and understand what I was going through so that some of those things in my young-adult life never had to happen or would have been less likely to happen. So, my goal is to really intervene with both kids who are struggling now or adults who have been struggling for many years. I want to intervene and help them with whatever they may be going through with their brain health concerns. That may be food addictions, alcoholism, smoking addictions, opioid addictions, prior heavy drug use. But in reality, what I’m really looking at is a symptomology that they’re presenting, and what does their brain need to function optimally? 

So, the purpose of this webinar is to help the public better understand how micronutrients greatly impact brain health and to understand how specialty lab testing and individualized nutraceuticals — that’s the key word there, individualized — can achieve optimal brain health for children and adults struggling with mental and emotional health concerns. So, you guys may understand this: As a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, I am not the first person that a parent or an adult patient calls when they are struggling with their child or their own mental and emotional health. I’m usually, like, the 10th person that they call. So, I have patients that have gone through just about everything. They have tried just about everything. It’s rare that I see that parent that has a kid that’s just having some minor issues and they just want to really just concentrate and get that situation corrected right in the here and now. It is usually that they have gone through so much already. Through specialty lab testing, nutraceuticals, food therapy, I have seen a lot of these health concerns resolved or greatly lessened. So, this is — I want you guys to really understand this — I’m not working with people who just have a little minor stress or the kid who just has a little bit of a minor issue at school. Maybe they normally get A’s, but now they got B’s. I’m dealing with kids that are about to get kicked out of school. I’m dealing with adults who have suffered with mental health concerns for years. And I still get results. 

So, parents and adults fear often that their problems are too big, too great for supplements and diet changes to make any difference. I hear that all the time; you know, “Dr. Dwight, you don’t know what we’re going through. It’s just too big. My kid hurt another kid at school,” or, “I went through this as a young person and it’s really affecting me.” And I do understand — I do greatly understand, and my heart goes out to those families. But what they don’t understand, typically, is that the supplementation given and diet changes made to have a great impact on the brain have to be consistent and specific to that child or adult. So, you may have tried omega-3s before because you heard it was good for the brain. You heard it was good for feelings of depression. You may have tried things like essential oils because you heard they were great for stress relief, but consistency is key — and understanding exactly what your body needs. You may be missing some things. You may not have had the appropriate lab testing to know exactly what your brain needs to be functioning at optimal levels. You may have only hit one of the concerns that your brain has. There might be multiple. 

Brian shared his story, and I will cover a little bit about Brian here later on in the presentation. But just for right now, I will say that they were only hitting a couple of the parameters that Brian was going through — not the whole spectrum. And once we start to really hit it on all levels, that’s when you see the results start to happen. So, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to brain health, and high-quality supplementation is vastly superior than what you will find at your local drug store or grocery store. Maybe you took an omega-3, but maybe it was from CVS, and not only was it a rancid fish oil, maybe it also was not at the appropriate dosage to be effective. Because they just kind of expect that a person’s just going to grab a fish oil and not really know what they’re exactly they’re taking. So, it may be at a very low dose where you need about 1500 milligrams of DHA and EPA fish oil; they may be giving you 600 milligrams. So, it’s gotta be the right dosage and it’s gotta be the right quality — no binders, fillers, food dyes. All those things play an effect on how that supplement may work for you. So, I want to talk about the different parts of the brain and what each part does, ‘cause it’ll go a long way in describing everything else that we’ll talk about later.

So, the brain: You have the frontal lobe, and it’s really all about movement. And then the prefrontal cortex is housed within the frontal lobe, and it deals with focus, planning and understanding consequences. So, in both children and adults — I think the children, you really see it possibly a lot more. You tell them not to do something a hundred times; they even get consequences for it, and they don’t get it. They keep repeating the same problem over and over and over again, same bad behavior, right? Impulse control. It helps to control impulse control. It’s the most dopamine-sensitive part of the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for focus, motivation and so on, and it also helps with impulse control. The parietal lobe: It processes sensory information, language processing, taste and texture. I’ll see a lot of kids who they don’t like — I do a lot of hands-on therapies, particularly craniosacral therapy, which is a light-touch therapy that deals with brain health — they will get really antsy when I’d use that light touch on them. That’s a sensory processing disorder. You may find that they don’t like to be hugged or they don’t like to be touched. It’s a sensory processing issue, which is the parietal lobe — too much stimulation in this parietal lobe.

You also might find that they have lots of taste and texture issues. So, I may want all day long for that kid to start eating, let’s say, avocado or some green foods, but the taste and the texture is too sensory-exciting to them for them to be able to handle it. So, we have to reduce that stimulation in the parietal lobe for them to be able to make those transitions to new foods. Temporal lobe — all about auditory processing, language comprehension, long-term memories, processing emotions and mood stability. Now, this all can be an issue with adults, but I see it most with my autistic kids that I work with. You guys have worked with autistic kids or have an autistic child, you’ll know that they cover their ears when the loud noises are happening. It may not even be that loud, but to them, it is. That’s an auditory processing issue, where the stimulation is just too excessive. You’ll also see issues with mood stability. They’ll have meltdowns very often. So, that’s a temporal lobe concern. And then the occipital lobe — just to throw it in for good measure — is all about vision and visual memory.

Now, there’s a couple other parts of the brain that really go a long way when helping to understand what people are going through with addictions, and that is the basal ganglia. It helps to produce dopamine and it sets the body’s anxiety levels. It integrates thoughts, feelings and movements. It’s why you jump when you’re nervous and freeze when you’re scared. If you have too much input into the basal ganglia, too much stimulation, you will lock up. That’s what was happening to me when I was a child; I know that now. I didn’t know that back then, obviously, but I know that now. When I would lock up when people would try to make conversation with me because I was too scared of saying the wrong thing or doing whatever it may have been, that was too much stimulation into the basal ganglia. However, too little input, a person will move excessively with stressful situations. You see this a lot with ADHD kids. They don’t have enough input. So, they always say that in emergency situations, ADHD people are the best because they run towards danger, right? That’s a basal ganglia issue. So, that child or that adult will need extra input into the basal ganglia, and that will help them to understand and recognize dangerous situations and also will help them to just relax a bit. 

The cingulate gyrus is involved with air detection and shifting attention. We see this a lot with autistic kids, but you also see it a lot with people with obsessive-compulsive issues. Too much input, the person will be stuck in a really difficult mindset of not being able to look through problems, being able to work through problems and then get over to doing what they need to do in life. They will just constantly be churning on and ruminating on those problems. With kids, it may be that they have found a certain toy or a certain video game that they like playing, and they will not be able to shift their attention to anything else. So, that’s the cingulate gyrus. Now, let’s talk about neurotransmitters. Let’s go over the excitatory ones first. Dopamine: At appropriate levels, it will help you to have focus and drive. It will also help you to have self-control. At low levels however, it will cause inattention, it will cause poor self-control. At excess levels, it will cause agitation, anger, hyperfocusing where you are just focusing on every little thing in your life and you just can’t even begin to have a good time with life because you’re just hyperfocusing on everything, right? It’s closely related to the brain’s reward system. 

Norepinephrine and epinephrine, at appropriate levels, is all about alertness. It promotes vigilance, enhances information retrieval, memory. At low levels, you lack drive, you lack perseverance, and at excess levels, you’ll be very anxious. And then, finally, glutamate levels. At appropriate levels, they’re very important for learning and memory, but at excess levels, they become an excitotoxin — actually, dopamine does as well. It actually will damage neurons, and it makes emotions very erratic. You will find these glutamates in foods as an additive; it’s called MSG, monosodium glutamate. So, two things may be happening when a person has excess levels of glutamate. Either they’re not breaking down that glutamate into other chemicals, which we’ll talk about later, or they are getting it through their diet. MSG: You guys probably know MSG because it’s commonly thought of as it gives you headaches and migraines, right? The reason it does that is because it’s an excitatory to the brain. Too much stimulation. So, really watch, really look at the packaging labels of your foods that you’re eating, especially seasonings and processed foods. Look and see if it has MSG in it. If you go out to restaurants, ask if they have it — especially if you have kids, ‘cause they tend to be a lot more sensitive.

Inhibitory neurotransmitters are your serotonin. At appropriate levels, you’re happy, you have a sense of well-being. At low levels, you can be sad, you can withdraw from others. You can have obsessive-compulsive behaviors when that’s combined with high dopamine levels. So with this, you have high dopamine so you’re going to be focusing very intently, but you don’t have the serotonin to balance that out. And at excess levels, you will become manic, obviously. GABA — very appropriate for calmness and relaxation. At low levels, you’re going to be anxious, high stress, you have an inability to handle stress. You will always be worried. Then at excess levels, you’ll have fatigue and low motivation. So, none of these chemicals are good or bad; they just need to be at the right, appropriate levels for brain balance. 

Now, here are the neural labs that I do at my office. They are a simple urine test. I sometimes run labs where it requires blood work, and my kids obviously do not like that, but this one’s very simple. I usually start off my potential patients with these labs just to see where they are. Now, this was a little girl — I believe she was about seven years old when we did this — and we found that her serotonin and GABA levels were both low. Her dopamine was high and her epinephrine was low. So, let me go through that step-by-step. This little girl, she could tell you every little detail about how she felt in her body. She would say that she felt a sensation right here in her left shoulder, and Dr. Dwight is really bothering me, and it was just so well-described that no seven-year-old should really be that in tune with every little detail of every little thing happening in their body and in the outside world. 

This little girl held a lot of grudges. She could not get over the fact that her mother had another child and that some of the attention that used to go to her was now going to her younger sister. She loved her younger sister, but she held that grudge very strongly. She could not let go of it. However, she also had very low enthusiasm for life, and she had a very hard time getting out the doors in the morning. They may have 15 minutes to get to school, but that little girl would sit there and just take her sweet time, getting anything done before they had to walk out the door. So, here we have high dopamine, which is the reasoning why she is so hyperfocused on everything that she’s feeling in her body. And then we have low serotonin and low GABA. This girl also had a lot of anxiety, stress issues, but the low serotonin combined with the high dopamine was the reasoning why she had such compulsions. The low epinephrine here, epinephrine is that fight-or-flight mechanism, right? It makes you say, “Oh my God, I only got 15 minutes to get somewhere.” Well, hers was low, so she didn’t have that going on quite so much. So, she took her time when everybody else is stressed and thinking they’re going to be late. And then — I want you guys to put a pin in this because we’re going to talk about it more here in a minute — but her norepinephrine-epinephrine ratio was very high. You see how her norepinephrine levels were normal, but her epinephrine levels were low. Put a pin in that. We’re going to talk about it here in a little bit.

This was a little autistic child. Here we have high, high dopamine levels. Double the average glutamate levels. This little child was nonverbal, had only really eaten McDonald’s chicken nuggets for the last couple of years. He had extreme meltdowns, and when I first saw this child, his nails were cracking, he had dark circles underneath his eyes — both are nutrient deficiencies. Like I said, he had such stimulation in his brain that he couldn’t eat other foods. It was too much of a task for his brain to handle. So, we started him off on the right supplementation. What ended up happening was within the first week, this child who never ate anything but McDonald’s chicken nuggets was now eating apples. Never happened before. That may not sound like a big deal, but that is nutrition that that kid was not getting before, and that mom called me crying because she had never seen her child eat anything other than McDonald’s chicken nuggets. What that shows me is that we were able to reduce the levels of these excitatory neurotransmitters and help that child feel a little bit more at ease in his own body. 

I didn’t quite get to what happened with the little girl at age seven. She is now doing phenomenal. She is doing things that her parents never really thought she would do before. She’s more relaxed. She’s able to associate better with her peers. Things have just really turned around for her as well. I promise, guys, in just a moment, I’m going to show you how I do this, how I get these results. This was a 58-year-old female. She had incredibly low serotonin, incredibly low GABA. Dopamine, epinephrine and glutamates were all very, very low. This particular lady, her mother had just died. Now, she had had a lot of concerns with mental health for many, many years. She was on a medication and she was basically feeling stable at the very least. Well, mom died and then — she greatly loved her mother, and then that — she really spiraled downward, and that’s what made her call me. So, when I showed her these labs, she actually started crying because, as we see, the dopamine and epinephrine levels are very low here, and I was able to explain to her that she’s not lazy. 

She was always being told she was just lazy. She should just get over and she should be more productive and she should find things that help her feel better about life. And she just didn’t even understand what they were talking about, really. But she started crying because she’d always been called lazy, and here, I can show her that she does not have the chemical ability to really have a lot of motivation right now. That within itself was very helpful for her. We also have the low serotonin, so she had very hard times with sadness — a low GABA, so she had lots of anxiety as well. Then once again, we have that norepinephrine-epinephrine ratio, which is very high here. So, this lady has now done very, very well with the right supplementation and right diet plan. She’s feeling much, much better. She’s feeling much, much more active in life. She started doing certain — changing careers now into something that she really wants to do and has always wanted to do but she never felt like she could. So yeah, we have gotten great success with her as well. She’s doing great. Then finally, Brian let you guys know that I could share his NeuroLab. So, this is Brian. Once again, we are low across the board here. And Brian let you guys know that he had gone through some traumatic experiences. He was having some severe problems sleeping at night. He was having anxiety. He was having focus and energy issues, and they’re all interrelated, but he was low and everything.

He was, like I said before, he was taking something, but it was only addressing the serotonin and norepinephrine; everything else was kind of left out. He may have felt some better on that, but it wasn’t addressing the whole situation. So now, we have Brian on the right supplementation that is addressing the serotonin, GABA, dopamine, everything. And we’re starting to see improvements in sleep. We’re starting to see improvements in anxiety. We’re starting to see improvements in his focus and energy levels. And we’re also working on some gut health issues that have also been a concern of his — some mold toxicity and things of that nature — which can also contribute to some of these concerns. And we’re starting to work and unravel these layers of concerns that he has had for many, many years. It really makes me feel incredibly hopeful for people when we see these kinds of results happen because Brian had not the same story as myself, but we both felt insecure growing up. We both felt like we didn’t know how to fit in, and to have understanding of how these things work — that these kids can truly get help at that age and they can get help as adults as well if they’ve already gone through those experiences — is just remarkable and makes me feel wonderful about what I do. 

I promised you I would show you how we make this all work. Now, the subject matter of this presentation is how micronutrients affect neurotransmitters. So, let me show — I’m going to give you the breakdown now of how these neurotransmitters are made. They don’t just happen. They’re not just there. There’s all kinds of new terminology — not new terminology, but it’s been around a long time — but everybody knows about chemical imbalances. The problem with that is that people just think that if you have a chemical imbalance, you just have it and that’s just what it is. Well, when you understand how these neurotransmitters are made, you understand that you might just be missing some of the very valuable ingredients that make those neurotransmitters. So, here we have L-tyrosine; it is an amino acid. It’s a protein from food or supplement. When you combine that with iron, a coenzyme called BH4 and niacin (which is vitamin B3), you get something called L-dopa. When you combine L-dopa with vitamin B6, you get dopamine. So, you may have a person who is vegan who is having an incredible time focusing and they’re just not getting enough iron because they’re missing the component. You can’t make these neurotransmitters without these ingredients; it’s not possible. 

So, they may just be missing some things in their diet, whether it’s through food or supplementation, that’s going to help them make this dopamine. Then when you add vitamin C and copper to dopamine, you get norepinephrine. So, imagine this: You have a child who just, like, will not eat any kind of fruit whatsoever. Will not. They just get no vitamin C at all. Well, it’s not possible to make norepinephrine without the appropriate vitamin C levels. So, they may be less alert. They may not be focusing well. Then finally, you add something called SAM-e. It’s going to take a minute for me to go over this one. SAM-e is a chemical that is derived from the methylation process. You guys might’ve heard about methylation, some of you may not have. Methylation is a chemical process where your body takes a methyl group and donates it to a substrate or another chemical. It does that because it helps the process of detoxification, helps the process of building neurotransmitters, but it’s like building a house. You have to have the drywall, you have to have screws and nails and shingles and all these things to build a house. 

So, this is part of that production. SAM-e is a chemical that is made in your body when you have the appropriate methylation processes happening. But here’s the kicker: About 50% of the population, due to genetics, don’t methylate the way that they should. So, they may not be making this SAM-e the way that they should. That will cause a few different things. No. 1: SAM-e, when combined with norepinephrine, becomes epinephrine. You need epinephrine, but also, this tells me a lot about how that person’s body’s functioning. So, when I’m going to go back — and told you to put a pin in it — when I go back and take a look at those people who had high norepinephrine, or had an adequate norepinephrine but low epinephrine, it tells me they’re not making SAM-e. It also tells me that their methylation pathways are not what they should be. And that tells me that they’re not detoxifying well, because it’s part of the process, and it tells me that they’re not making the neurotransmitters like they should be. 

So, I hear this a lot from parents and adults as well. They’ll say things like, “Dwight, our kid — we eat relatively healthy, and they’re still struggling. They’re still struggling with focus. They’re still struggling with impulsivity, and the kid down the street — they eat McDonald’s all the time and they’re doing great. They’re getting good grades in school and they’re the life of every birthday party. Why is that? How come?” What my answer to that is their genetics are different. They can handle a lot more than what your child can or what you can, if you’re an adult patient. Where that child can eat McDonald’s every day of the week, your child may not be able to eat McDonald’s one day a week without having some severe consequences to their brain and emotional health. So, you gotta understand how these genetic issues work and how we can help that person to achieve the same set of goals and same set of — you know, get to right where that kid is down the street. But they’re going to have to work a little harder at it. 

You guys know that crude oil makes gasoline, right? Well, you wouldn’t go and put crude oil into your car. Now, the same thing happens in your body. Your body has to take these vitamins, these minerals, these proteins, and they have to break them down appropriately to make something that’s useful for your body. And if it’s not doing it correctly due to genetic issues, then the person is going to struggle. So, it is my job to help people understand those things and to help get them back on track. There we have L-tryptophan — with vitamin C, folate, niacin, iron, calcium, it becomes 5-HTP. Then you add B6, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium — which about 50% of the population may be deficient in magnesium — and you’re going to get serotonin. So, it may be that you’re just not eating enough magnesium in your diet or not getting enough Vitamin C. That might be the reason that your serotonin levels are low and you’re feeling unhappy. And then we have SAM-E once again, and you get melatonin. Once again, your methylation concerns may be a reason that you’re not producing melatonin and you’re not getting the sleep that you need. I know this is a little bit complicated, but just know the reason I bring this up is because I want you guys to understand that without these vitamins, minerals and amino acids, you cannot get these neurotransmitters. So, it’s not just a simple, “Well, you have a chemical imbalance and that’s all it is.” No, there are ways that we can help through diet and supplementation.

Last one here: L-glutamine becomes glutamate. Then, with the right amount of magnesium and B6, we get GABA. So, here we have glutamate, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter. But if you add the right magnesium and B6, you get GABA, which is a relaxation neurotransmitter. So, that child with autism — they had incredibly high glutamate levels and they were only eating chicken nuggets. I can promise you there’s no magnesium in chicken nuggets, so they were lacking in that magnesium. And once we supplied that to that child, they produced more GABA and they were feeling better.  

Last but not least here, I want to describe this. It’s a long, complicated terminology here, but I want you guys to understand when people tell you to eat your greens, they’re not just saying it because it’s just the hippie terminology that we just need to eat more greens. No, there’s reasons biochemically behind it. So, we call this the folate cycle. B9, also called folate, equals green leafy vegetables in food form. You combine that with B3, it becomes dihydrofolate. I’m not going to go through all these, but I want you guys to understand that at the end of this process, you get the toxification and you get neurotransmitter production. So, when I have a family that comes into me with a child that says, “Oh, he’ll never touch any greens,” and I ask, “Well, does he supplement? Do you supplement with him?” “No, we don’t do any supplements either.” There’s not a possible way that this kid can be detoxifying properly or can be producing the right kinds of neurotransmitters. So, whether it’s through green leafy veggies or it’s through the right kind of supplementation, you have to provide the brain and the body these. I’ll also say this: A lot of processed foods are fortified with something called folic acid. That is the synthetic form of B9; it does not work the same way as methylfolate. It’s not methylated. And as I said before, a large percentage of the population does not methylate properly. So, please avoid those synthetic B vitamins like folic acid or cyanocobalamin. Those are not going to be helpful with your child or with yourself; make sure that it is a methylated form.

Now, other considerations that we have for brain health is, No. 1, inflammation. I have never seen anything be more inflammatory to the brain than food dyes. I had a child who actually choked a kid in school — pinned him up against a tree and was choking him — and he had several other instances of acting out in school. About to get kicked out of school. We were able to trace his problematic behavior to food dyes. He was on a small amount of medication. There was guanfacine, which is an ADHD medication, and he was doing great along with some diet changes. I didn’t put him on the guanfacine — that was the pediatrician. I’m not allowed to work with pharmaceuticals. But he was doing great, phenomenal. And then the manufacturer of his guanfacine changed, and instead of a little white pill, it started becoming a little orange pill. Within the week, he was acting out in school, getting angry. He even told his mom, “Mom, it feels like my brain’s on fire.” Me and the pediatrician were able to find a guanfacine that did not have the food dyes in it through another pharmacy, and his behavior went right back to normal. 

So, that’s a tiny — he was taking a small, small pill. That’s not much. Imagine the kids that are starting off their school day with a big bowl of Lucky Charms, which is nothing but food dyes and those marshmallows. That is a lot more, and that’s going to be a lot more problematic. Sugar, obviously — starchy foods like white potato, breads, pasta. Those can cause a lot of sugar fluctuations in the body because they’ll start just breaking down into sugar, and they will have an initial spike in energy and then they’ll plummet, and then they’ll get moody. You guys who have been hungry — you guys know what it’s like when you have your sugar crash on you. You’re not pleasant to be around, are you? No. Kids, who have a lot less self-control — they’re even less pleasant to be around when they’re having sugar fluctuation. 

Food allergies and sensitivities: IGE and IGG food allergy and sensitivity labs is something I do at the office often. We can see which foods are causing an immune response within the body and causing an inflammation response within the body. That is going to help us to be able to eliminate those foods for a time while that child heals — heals their gut, heals their immune system — and it will go a long way in their mental and emotional health. Gut health — are there beneficial bacteria? We all know that there are reasons for antibiotics; however, we have to understand what those beneficial bacteria do for us. When you take an antibiotic, it kills off all the beneficial bacteria — so, beneficial bacteria responsible for growth and development. It also plays a factor in creating neurotransmitters. It also helps our immune system. It protects our gut by not allowing harmful chemicals to get into the bloodstream. It does so much for us. So, when we take an antibiotic, we have to make sure we’re replacing it with the right kind of probiotic, and it needs to be a high-quality one or there can be concern. This was something that Brian was struggling with as well. It can really cause feelings of fatigue, cause feelings of brain fog. 

So, we need to take appropriate responses of eating the right foods and taking the right supplementation for the candida if that’s an issue. We usually find these things out with a comprehensive stool analysis, where they will be able to see what bacteria is in the stool. What’s missing in the stool, bacteria-wise? Is there any sort of candida there? It’s incredible at helping us decipher what means we need to go forward with. And then, last but not least, excessive use of electronics. Electronics, especially video computer games — iPads are constant stimulation to the brain. They overwhelm the brain with dopamine, and what will happen is the child will have no dopamine left over for things like their math homework. If that child just saved the world in a video game, are they going to be concerned about doing their math homework? No. You will also see this cause a lot of compulsion issues as well. You can’t change the world that we live in. We live in a very modern age, so just understand that. Just make limits, whether it’s for yourself or it’s for your child. I just put limits on it and see what the breaking point is on how it affects their behavior. 

This is how I start my patients. Typically, we start with the neurotransmitter testing, which is the urine test — very non-invasive. It allows us to see where the excesses or deficiencies are, and those neurotransmitters. Then we will set up a review for that patient. They’ll get my interpretations, and if they choose to do so, they will be able to move into one of my customized wellness programs that will get to the heart of the matter. We’ll get them all the help they need to start feeling better.

With that said, this is my contact information; guys, please email me with any questions that you have. I’m going to answer any questions that are in the chatbox here as well. Like me on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve got some online programs coming out as well. So, just look for that, and I greatly appreciate Advanced Recovery Systems and all you guys for attending tonight or today. I appreciate you all. Thank you, guys.

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.

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