Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential, with your host
Lisa Tamati, brought to you by lisatamati.com.
Lisa Tamati: Hey, everyone. Lisa Tamati here. Welcome back to the show this week. Now, I have Dr Elizabeth Yurth — orthopedic surgeon, Chief Medical Officer at Boulder Longevity Institute, one of my teachers and mentors, and absolutely fantastic lady who has been on the show already twice before. We share today — we talk about cancer, and we also talk about your immune system and how to protect yourself in these perilous times that we're living in.
I hope you enjoy this episode with Dr Elizabeth Yurth. She is really one of the world's leading experts in areas like peptides and longevity in the immune system. I hope you get a ton out of this. There was so much in this that I'm blown away. I wanted to put you in the picture before we get to the interview.
I've been on another long journey with my mum who has just been diagnosed with high grade — which means fast and aggressive — B-cell lymphoma, diffuse B-cell lymphoma. Now, this was after she just had major brain surgery to remove a tumour that was in the left parietal lobe. For the past few weeks, I have been deep in the quagmire of cancer research in putting together the best protocols and the best doctor team for my mum, and a part of that team is Dr Elizabeth Yurth.
My mum has been under her for nearly a year now, and now being hit with this diagnosis. I'm so super pleased to have her on board. I'm going to be doing a couple of different interviews around the theme of cancer for obvious reasons. I’m deep in the research and absolutely blown away by the things that we can actually do now.
Again, it's not always mainstream. It is thinking outside the box. Watch out for the next couple of episodes that are coming. The stats are that one out of six of us is going to get cancer of some type in our lifetimes. This is something that we all need to be aware of in understanding and looking at our approaches besides the normal — chemotherapy, radiation — sort of paths and surgical path, which is definitely necessary. We've already been on the surgical one.
Shout out to our neurosurgeons down in Wellington Hospital, Mr Andrew Parker and his team. Absolutely amazing doctors and surgeons who saved mum's life. Very, very grateful. There's actually been a huge team behind mum’s success so far.
We are in the middle of the quagmire still, but we've won the round one, if you like, the surgical battle to keep her alive and to get her brain back to functioning fully after she really deteriorated very, very fast. I hope you enjoy this interview. That is the background story to it, and it is one of the reasons why I haven't been working for the last few weeks for obvious reasons. I'm just absolutely deep in research and very excited about some of the guests that are going to be able to share with you after doing so much research in the last few weeks.
It's amazing what you can learn when you have to. Right now, I went to the show with Dr Elizabeth Yurth from the Boulder Longevity Institute. I would really love any of your listeners to actually join the bli.academy.com. That's her teaching arm of her practice, and it's really, really worth being involved in there. It's fantastic.
I'd also like to remind you to check out what we do. We do epigenetics and DNA testing, health optimisation coaching. If you've got a cancer journey, you might want to come and talk to me as well. I'm certainly not qualified in anything, but I have uncovered a hell of a lot of research and can point you in the right direction — and also doctors and books and things like that that you can refer to. Check those out.
Our epigenetic programme is still our flagship programme. We'd love you to check that out if you want to understand your genetics and how you can optimise your genetics to optimise your health the best you can — getting a user manual basically for your body so that you know what type of foods, what type of diets, what time of the day to eat, what mental activities will stimulate you, what social activities will stimulate you, what environment, physical exercise, what type of exercise to do for your particular body. That's our flagship programme, our epigenetics programme.
If you want to do a deeper dive into your DNA, I also use the DNA companies testing and build programmes around that to help if you have things like hormonal health, want to understand methylation, your detox pathways, and so on and so forth. Please do reach out to me if you've got any health questions.
Of course, we also have runninghotcoaching.com — that’s our run coaching arm of our business, and we have a holistic run training system. I have a fantastic — my coach who's been my coach for 15 years and my business partner, Neil Wagstaff, who's the brains behind what we do.
I actually did the running. He told me what to do. And he is fantastic. If you want to help getting to some special event that you want to tackle, whether it's an ultramarathon, or your first five kilometers, or you're just getting off the couch and don't know where the hell to start, we would love to help you do that safely and holistically. So, check out runninghotcoaching.com.
Now, over to the show was Dr Elizabeth Yurth.
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Pushing the Limits this week. I have Dr Elizabeth Yurth, my favourite doctor in the world. Welcome back again. Thanks for coming on again, Dr Elizabeth. You're just amazing.
Before we dive in, I want to tell people I've been on this massive journey with my mom who's had a brain tumour which has turned out to be lymphoma. We've had the brain tumour removed, everyone. Thank you very much to everybody on her team who has been working it, from the amazing neurosurgeon, Mr Andrew Parker, right through to Dr Elizabeth.
We are going to do a bit of a combo episode today. We are going to talk a little bit about cancers. We're also going to talk a little bit about immune system — and the two overlap quite considerably, don't they? Welcome to the show again. So wonderful to have you.
Elizabeth Yurth: You and I always love talking.
Lisa: We do.
Elizabeth: It's just we usually end up talking for an hour beforehand. Kudos to you that you're actually doing this. I know it's been a long weeks. I mean, I've known Lisa's mum for a little while too. She kind of started with just kind of doing the anti-ageing stuff. Then, unfortunately, we got derailed by this diagnosis. That sort of started us down a little different path. But she's a super tough, very cool lady. If any of you who follow Lisa, follow her Instagram posts, you’ll know how mean she is to her.
Lisa: Very mean! She whines a lot, especially when she was on the steroids. Oh my god! Funny anecdote. They hit her on dexamethasone which is a steroid, as you know, in quite high doses, and her personality changed 100%. It was hilarious because —
Elizabeth: She got really irritable and just kind of mean.
Lisa: Bossy, opinionated. I'm like, welcome to my world, mum. I've got that too every single day of my life. It was quite hilarious because she's a very peaceful, very serene person. So thank god, she's off that now, and she's doing everything here. We've been throwing in the bus, haven’t we doctor?
Elizabeth: We'll fight this thing. Just another, as I said, when Lisa said, ‘Well, we basically brought her back from death one time.’ I said, ‘This is it.’ She’s like, ‘Nine lives. This is just the second one.’ So you still got seven more to go.
Lisa: I love it and it's just treated — it's like a book number —
Elizabeth: Exactly. It's now become a series — like Harry Potter. Feels like that at times.
Lisa: Let's do a bit of diving in. In this journey that I've been on in finding out mum had lymphoma, which is a B-cell lymphoma in this case, a high grade. It's aggressive. I've been diving into cancer research for obvious reasons and I've come across…
You've been helping me do — finding out about Jane McLelland who we're going to have on the show as well soon. Amazing lady who survived three terminal cancers, written a book called How to Starve Cancer — which isn't just about diet, but off-label drugs. That's been very powerful.
Then, I've also been studying Dr Dom D’Agostino’s workaround ketosis and ketones, and inhibiting tumour growth, and so on. You use both of these approaches in the stuff that you do. What's really shocked me in the cancer journey is that everything that was healthy for us prior to cancer is actually not healthy when you've got it. Can you explain it to people?
Elizabeth: That's exactly right. It's very, very hard because honestly, you kind of have to stop everything that's good in terms of regrowth and making our mitochondria healthy and all that kind of stuff. You’ve got to pull that dead end to that because we really want just to get rid of everything for a while.
It's the biggest problem, right? It’s that we have to, “You're not going to build muscle while you have cancer. You're not going to…”, because everything that's sort of anabolic and growth and all that kind of stuff. We got to sort of slow all that down. As a lot of you guys know, we do a little bit of that in our anti-ageing realm, right? We do some of that where we want to go through these autophagy phases where we want to get rid of all the bad cells. Then, we want to regrow — we want to get rid of bad cells and regrow. We always want this getting rid of damaged cells.
What happens in cancer, though, is we have this accumulation of damage. Now, we have to go really aggressively at getting rid of everything that's allowing cell growth. Because what I tell people, ‘It's everything…’ Again, we balance that a little bit with our ageing stuff. We always want to kind of take people into a more of a catabolic pathway or breakdown to get rid of stuff.
But, we also want our muscles and all that good stuff. We can't really do both. It's the struggle sometimes with people is to say, ‘You’ve got to go exercise. You've got to do this stuff…’, even though you don't feel like it because that's going to help maintain glucose and everything. But, in general, we're going to block muscle growth. We're going to block everything that's kind of—
Lisa: Everything that's beneficial prior to the cancer diagnosis.
Elizabeth: Cancer gets a little bit misinterpreted in that. It's actually a mitochondrial disease. It happens at the mitochondrial level. They took cancer cells, and they took the mitochondria out of a cancer cell. When they took the mitochondria out of the cancer cell, they injected the cancer cell with the healthy mitochondria. It was no longer a cancer cell.
But when they took that cancer mitochondria out and put it into a normal cell, that cell became a cancer cell. We know it actually begins at the mitochondrial level, and because the cancer cell needs tons and tons of energy. It needs glucose, and it needs oxidative phosphorylation, it needs to make tons of ATP because it's growing at massive rates. It's reproducing, replicating and doing all this stuff.
We got to shut all that down. You've got to work at that mitochondrial level — at the pathways that are making ATP at the mitochondrial level, and starting to block all of those pathways that are allowing the cells to thrive and be healthy. We got to block all that growth, and we have to hit it from a lot of different pathways.
The tricky thing about cancer is that you block one pathway, it finds another. It's going to get energy. The cancer cells are craving energy. Glucose is their biggest one, right? That's their biggest source — which is why we talk about Dr Dom D’Agostino. You’ve got to get people ketonic. You have to be ketosis to get rid of glucose, right?
But it is a mitochondrial disease. When we look at diseases in general, I'm kind of passionate about how much mitochondria play a role. But it's definitely a mitochondrial disease. When we talk about some ways to target it, that's why a lot of the approaches you're taking are working on the mitochondria.
Lisa: Prior to this diagnosis, and prior to mom having problems, we were doing phases of growth stuff. Then, we were doing — at times, when we were on metformin, and other things to lower the glucose and lower the growth.
One of the questions that popped up in my head is after studying or Jane McLelland's work, I’m looking at all the pathways — the glutamine pathways, the glucose pathways, and the fatty pathways or fatty pathways — that feed tumour growth is the one around nucleoside salvage in macropinocytosis. The autophagy pathways basically, aren't they?
Spermidine is something we've talked about in the past episodes, and how wonderful spermidine is. One of the questions that I had in my head was, ‘Is spermidine bad in the case of cancer because of autophagy?’ I’m a bit confused on whether I'm wanting to upregulate autophagy, or downregulate autophagy, and those two pathways.
Elizabeth: That's a tricky question. It’s a very tricky question. Actually, interestingly enough, appears to be a little different for different cancers. We know, actually, spermidine appears to be very, very beneficial in colon cancer. It actually has been shown to be super, super beneficial. Then, there's been some other cancers like prostate where they actually found that blocking the polyamine pathways that may actually be good in terms of getting rid of cancer cells.
I don't know that we're super clear on the answer to that question. In general, I think that there's probably even a dose dependence to that too. Because we know that probably very, very high dose spermidine is going to have a very dramatic autophagy effect. Again, where spermidine works is at the mitochondrial level — which is nice, so it's mitophagy. And we want to kill off those.
The question is, ‘What dose is that? If I don't get enough of that dose, am I potentially just propagating some cells and getting rid of some?’ So, I don't know. That's the hard thing with a lot of the stuff we did. The research may be still a little bit too early for us to say definitively. I get that question a lot about spermidine.
My general answer is I think that high dose — it's probably very good. But I don't go there yet because I just don't know the answer. I would say that probably I wouldn't use it in this case until I have more research until I know it. We just don't know. We need to get rid of those damaged mitochondria.
Using things like doxycycline. Doxycycline may be a really nice way to be doing that because we know… If you hear about mitochondria, as bacteria, which is what they are. Remember, they were their own little bacteria. They need us. They started out as their own little bacteria. That's why they're so cool. They have their own RNAs, their own DNAs — mitochondrial DNA. They're completely independent of us. They basically allowed us to become aerobic organisms. They started making our energy supply.
If you think about them as bacteria, you can see why doxycycline — which is an antibacterial agent — works very well to get rid of these mitochondria. This damaged mitochondria, right? So they're taking up this doxycycline and we're killing off some of these mitochondria. If we think about this cancer against mitochondrial disease, that's probably the approach… I think it’s a good approach to think about in these cancers is just to attack the mitochondria, blocking oxide for phosphorylation.
But this way, I think doxycycline has some really, really interesting benefits. We know it works on the mitochondrial level. In fact, it actually really helps damaged mitochondria to just go on its merry way — to get rid of them now. I think that, that would maybe — I probably would stick to those approaches that right now we have better answers to.
Lisa: And spermidine is so good for —
Elizabeth: It’s so good. It may be well that like eight a day — like a high dose — it makes sense to me because it does have a very, very, very good mitophagy property. That kind of dose, it does kill off mitochondria. But I just don't know the answer to what is the right dosage —
Lisa: And for this particular cancer, and so on. With autophagy, when you're actually killing off broken and damaged cells, that's where it becomes just like nucleoside salvage pathway. I'm sort of trying to put the biochemistry together. But this is where you're actually recycling so those cancer cells can use the recycled proteins — broken proteins. Then, it becomes another fuel source for us.
Elizabeth: Then, you have to use something to block that pathway, right?
Elizabeth: You have to use like dipyridamole. Dipyridamole is going to block the nucleoside salvage pathways. That's like — when people talk about cancer, and even our chemotherapeutic drugs which are working, they tend to be working on one pathway. That's why cancer is so hard because you trick away from one pathway, then it finds another pathway.
It’s exactly what you're talking about. It's like, ‘Oh, great. I'm just going to use this so it goes into this nucleoside salvage pathway…’ And saying, ‘You’ve got to block that.’ You have work at it from a whole bunch of different realms.
Lisa: This is right here. This is the same with the journey that I was on with mum with her rehabilitation of her brain. It wasn't a one-thing-fixed-it. It’s attacking it on many things. Especially with Jane McLelland's work, she had this lovely graph where she had the cancer in the middle of your life. She called it a ‘spot of bother’, and I like that attitude. Then, she's got arrows coming in. You're firing at the thing from 100 different pathways. In that mix is, blocking down the glucose.
She's been on a very strict diet, for starters, because I really didn't know what the hell to feed her. I basically only fed her vegetables. That's all she got. No protein, basically. No fats because I just didn't want to feed the damn thing until I've worked out what it is. We were still waiting on a final detailed diagnosis.
Now, I've introduced a little bit more protein because we are dealing with a lack of protein right here. But trying not to feed the thing but not starve the person — this is where the off-label drug combos come in.
Elizabeth: That's what's kind of cool about like Jane McLelland’s work is these are all drugs that you know or supplements that are well-known, approved, safe, inexpensive, readily available that you can utilise. Some you need a doctor's prescription for, others are supplements that you can just use. Any doctor is going to be like, ‘Oh, I know what Metformin is. I know what doxycycline is.’
A caveat, I always recommend doing these hand in hand with conventional approaches to cancer. I don't think you do this instead of the conventional approaches. I know those people who are like, ‘Oh, I'm going to treat this all naturally.’ You have to be careful with chemotherapeutic drugs too but — using these things together in constant synergy between them and working…
That's where it is funny. I don't know how much you'll run into this with your oncologist. They will just say, ‘Don't do anything at all except what we’re recommending. We don’t want you to be…’ And I get that all the time. I mean, the doctors are like, ‘No, don't do any of that.’
Lisa: Because they don’t know about it.
Elizabeth: Because they don't, they don't know. Right. Even though you can say — you can ask them why. I mean, ask them why. I have, actually, a leukemia patient — a young leukemia patient. She lives in Israel. She’s young, she's 32, and she has really aggressive myelogenous leukemia. We put her on Gaines protocol, and we're doing thymosin alpha-1. Literally, her doctors said, ‘If we're going to do this, then you need to be off of all this stuff.’
Lisa: This is the bloody problem, isn't it? I was listening to Dom D'Agostino talking on the podcast, and he was talking like, ‘We now have medical oncologists, we have radiation oncologists, but we also need a metabolic oncologist.’ This is the piece that's missing out of the standard model. We need the standard model, but then they go and say, ‘Don't do intravenous vitamin C. Don't do hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Don't do ketosis.’
When they don't know about that — again, I've experienced this a number of times, unfortunately, in my life. With mom's brain rehabilitation, it was like none of that's going to work. Well, they were wrong. They were indeed wrong. So I have that natural skepticism or — put it this way — ‘Want that input, want your input, want other people’s input. Then, I make my decisions.’
Elizabeth: You want data too, right? If somebody just tells me, ‘Okay, do this.’ I want to see the evidence too. But there's ample evidence to support these things. You can look up ‘metformin’s mechanisms’, or ‘doxycycline’s mechanisms’, or the ‘statin drugs and their mechanisms, and why do they work’. You need scientific evidence, right?
I will arm my patients with, ‘Okay, we’ll show them the scientific data.’ If they can prove me wrong, I'm fine. The oncologist then comes and goes, ‘But look at this study. This shows that what you're going to do with what I'm doing is going to be detrimental.’ I'll critically look at that study and I may change my mind — but I want them to prove it to me.
That's why I get really frustrated, ‘Why are doctors so incredibly closed minded to read the scientific evidence, and then either support or negate it?’ We're living in a world where people can just say what they want to say. I mean, that's happened with a lot of things as you know, and without scientific evidence to support it. There's nothing I do that I've not researched about.
Lisa: This is where we need your expertise because I don't know the drug interactions between some of the things that I'm doing in the specific chemo that I may be told to take or for mum. I'm stuck in that position going, ‘Do I not do anything, and I just follow the standard route?’
Elizabeth: Maybe it’s the team, though, right? It would be nice if you had the oncologists who are looking at this stuff and understand it, and looking at metabolic cellular level things. But they just know their study protocols, and that's what they're going to do.
Lisa: This has just come from — 1924 I think it was. Otto Warburg, who was a Nobel Prize Laureate, who discovered the Warburg effect. This really set the stage for us understanding the metabolism of how cancer… And this is how PET scans work and why they can use it for diagnosis because cancer sucks glucose like no tomorrow.
It takes on 20 times the amount of glucose than other cells do, and that's how they can pinpoint it in the body. But somewhere along the 40s, 50s, and 60s, it got derailed as a genetic disease. This is as soon as, now, decades of — it's the chicken and the egg. It's like that mitochondria example that you gave before where it starts off in the mitochondria.
Elizabeth: That's what we know it's not just a genetic disease. Genetics, just like everything, can predispose us, but it's not a genetic disease because otherwise the mitochondria — which are independent of that have their own DNA — would not be the thing that kind of churn the cancer cell because I'm not taking…
Mitochondria has a different DNA. To blame it all on genetics, genetics are like in everything. I mean, you study epigenetics. You know that everything has a secondary issue, and then… I got very derailed and very neglected to look at metabolism.
Lisa: Now, it's coming back around again. But unfortunately, again, in clinical practice, it seems to still be 20, 30 years behind — as in all areas of medicine that I've looked into. Then, you get the thing, like they get a tumour biopsy — like they took mom's tumour out.
They did the heterogeneity, meaning that one part of the tumour will give genetic mutations in this direction, and then the other part of the tumour might give genetic mutations in completely different…. In other words, there's no — what do you call it?
Lisa: Homogenous. This means that… It's actually started in the mitochondria in the metabolism, and then caused genetic change. It's not the other way around as it once appears to be.
Elizabeth: Again, those studies are there. You take the mitochondria — if we could transplant all the mitochondria back to the cancer cell, you change it back into a normal cell. Why are the doctors not looking at that evidence? Why aren't we looking at this as a mitochondrial disorder? We need to treat the mitochondria — which is going to be metabolism because that's where the mitochondria —
Lisa: Because some spent decades up the wrong tree, and nobody wants to…
Elizabeth: Right. They don’t want to… Nobody wants to…
Lisa: There is certain things in — so it's not to say that it's been a waste of time what they've studied and stuff.
Elizabeth: We've made headway on cancer, right? We have. We're not going to deny that there has been progress in that realm. But if we put everything together, we'd be a whole lot further down that path. Even the realm of… One of the questions is, we all probably always have cancer. It's just that we're getting rid of the cells, and the immune system responds appropriately to keep those cancer cells in check.
So it's when the immune system gets to ratify cancer as a disease of ageing more so, right? Because your immune system starts becoming dysfunctional as we age, so we can no longer get rid of — the immune system surveillance is gone.
A lot has to go wrong to get cancer. You still see cancer in young people, but mostly, it's a disease, like all of our other diseases — an age related disease — because the immune system becomes much more detrimental. When our immune system gets taxed by something — like a virus. That's why so many viruses are like Epstein-Barr virus. So Epstein-Barr virus is very elite.
Lisa: It’s what mum has.
Elizabeth: Yes. Right. She was EBV positive on that. So we know. EBV is very, very linked to lymphoma. So we know that something about that virus triggers our immune system. Significantly. Many, many people get Epstein-Barr. That's mono. Everybody gets mono, right? But it can stick around latently, and so we know there's a lot of viruses — cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus… COVID is probably going to end up doing this too.
But a lot of viruses that have dysregulated the immune system. Now, 30 years later, you actually end up with a cancer that's related to that. That's right. Her lymphoma cells were EBV positive. It's worrisome because if you look at how many people have EBV, and we started to say, ‘Oh, well, mono. Everybody gets mono.’ But should we be more aggressively using antiviral agents?
One of my friends who does a lot of cellular medicine. Puts almost all of our patients initially on some antiviral agents, assuming that most of us have latent viruses that are taxing our immune systems, before we try to keep Epstein-Barr in check.
Lisa: Is there one actually for Epstein-Barr virus? Like in the case of mom? Is there an antiviral…
Elizabeth: There are some antivirals that are probably beneficial to Epstein-Barr. Even ivermectin, as it is for COVID, may be helpful for EpsteinBarr. There are some other antiviral agents that you can utilise that have some crossover to Epstein-Barr. It was in the HIV drugs.
Interestingly enough, we're using actually in some more COVID long haulers too, to help get rid of these kind of chronic viral infections.
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Elizabeth: My immune system is always having to keep this virus in check. It just can't function normally. Now, I'm starting to deplete my lymphocytic population, my lymphocytes, my innate immune system becomes taxed. One of the first things we always follow in our patients is the ratio of neutrophils to lymphocytes. You and I talked about this — when that ratio starts to change, the goal is always to have a relatively equal number of neutrophils and lymphocytes because that's…
Neutrophils — think of them as your chronic inflammatory, and lymphocytes are your innate immune system. When my innate immune system starts to become taxed and not functioning well, then you'll start to see the lymphocyte count drop, and drop, and drop,and drop. That means now, I don't have the immune surveillance to get rid of these cells that are basically little invaders.
It’s like Epstein-Barr do that dramatically. My son got — he actually got Epstein-Barr and COVID at the same time, and his white count literally went down to — a normal white count be somewhere like four to seven. His white count went down to point eight. That's what HIV does, right? It depletes your lymphocyte count.
Now, think about what's happening. If my immune system always is fighting off cancer cells — getting the macrophages in the cancer cells as invaders, they get rid of them. But if I don't have that, so now I've got chronic EBV, the cancer cells can take over. I think it's under-appreciated how much these viruses are playing a role in our long haul.
We've linked them to even dementias, right? Herpes simplex virus seemed to have very high levels of HSV viral titers in people, so how many people have had cold sores? HSV-1 — that latent virus also attacks your immune system. We know there's a link between the herpes simplex virus, particularly type six, that's linked very much to Alzheimer's dementia. It causes the same thing.
Maybe, actually something that we should be getting a little bit more aggressive at looking at. Should we be looking at our patients in these ageing labs? Should we be running these viral titers on scene. What sort of latent viruses sit in there?
Lisa: I've had shingles, and I've got the herpes virus. I've had glandular fever. So Epstein Barr Virus is certainly waiting to kick off.
Elizabeth: So simple lab that your listeners can look at their simple CBC, there's simply complete blood count. If that lymphocyte count is dropping — like now you've got 70%, neutrophils and 20% lymphocytes — your immune system is not doing well. There's something that's taxing your immune system.
It's a super simple parameter to follow that tells you that… Doctors don't look at that. But it's really important that that lymphocyte count stays up because that means your innate immune system — which is the one that's going to fight off everything — is still healthy. Most people, it doesn't stay healthy. Most people, as we age,the innate immune system gets…
Lisa: On that point, that brings us to peptides a little bit because we're using your guidance — a couple of different peptides with mum which we're still waiting for. The thymosin alpha-1 is a peptide, a naturally-occurring peptides.
So peptides is, for people who don't know, can you give us a brief what the heck a peptide is because my doctors at Augsburg, New Zealand, don’t know what the hell are peptides? Let alone how to get it.
Elizabeth: Peptides are basically small proteins in a sense. A protein is a chain of amino acids and they can be two amino acids put together. But there are somewhere between 2 and 50 amino acids. All there are is amino acid chains that make — instead of a protein which is a big amino acid chain — that they are smaller chains. Less than 50 is a peptide, more than 50 is a protein.
There's peptide hormones and there's neural peptides. They have all sorts of different things that they do in our body. So our body makes thousands of peptides. Then, there's synthetic peptides that have been developed to do certain things as well. Not all of our peptides that we utilise are natural to our body, but a fair number are. Thymosin alpha-1 that is natural to our body.
When we're young, we're born with giant thymus glands, or thymus gland, that big ol’ huge glands in our chest. It's huge. It's huge. It takes up half our chest. Then, it gets smaller, and smaller, and smaller, and smaller. It's at its best at puberty. After puberty, the thymus gland starts to shrink.
Your immune system is really at its best around puberty. After that, it actually — the key is that the thymus gland makes these peptides… One called, we call ‘thymic peptides’, and one is ‘thymalfsin’ or ‘thymosin alpha-1’. Thymosin alpha-1 sort of tells your T lymphocytes, in a sense, what to do. Your bone marrow makes these [unintelligible], and it's going to educate them. I always sort of think of it like camp for your lymphocytes. It’s going to educate them on what to do, ‘Fight this virus. Don't attack herself.’
There's the link between autoimmune disease, and fighting viruses. As the thymus gland shrinks, and by the time your mom's age — peanut size. My age, it's tiny, tiny. You don't have the thymic peptides. Now, my innate immune system is a little more on its own. You hope that somewhat has been trained, but it's not as functional.
Basically, if you could give back what we had at puberty — again, the thymus does other things, too. It makes thymosin in beta-4 which is a repair peptide — but for this, we want lots of thymosin alpha-1.
For our patients with autoimmune diseases or cancers, we want to help the immune system as much as possible. We give them back what they're lacking, which is this thymosin alpha-1. Very safe — you could give massive doses, you could bathe in it. You could give a massive dose if you could afford it. But it's very expensive. It's actually utilised as a drug in a lot of countries called the Daxon.
A lot of countries actually utilise it whenever patients are going through chemotherapy to help the immune system stay strong. They also view it as an adjunct for vaccines because one of the reasons vaccines don't work very well when we get older is because our immune system is gone, right?
Lisa: No antibodies.
Elizabeth: The Daxon — when they give the vaccine so they can get innate immune response, they can form antibodies, they can form that T-cell memory. When patients are sick with cancer, we want to help that immune system, especially when they start doing things like chemotherapy because chemotherapy really knocks down your immune system.
We want to support the immune system. That way we keep the immune system healthy enough to help fight cancer while the chemotherapy is trying to kill off these cancer cells. As you know, it's not easy to get. It is really safe, and yet it's expensive and hard to attain.
Lisa: It’s a sub-Q injection, which cause the…
Elizabeth: It’s a sub-Q injection.
Lisa: I've been studying and I had Dr William Seeds on. I've been studying peptides and it's a big area to understand. But it's also extremely important to understand this.
Elizabeth: It is because the thing is again, you've got to give back the body what it’s lacking. That's one of the places that's really lacking. It totally safe. There's almost nothing that you could do wrong with thymosin alpha-1. Like I said, you could give massive, massive, massive doses in our people. Some of my patients who get very sick with viruses. For instance, we’ll give them huge doses to help them survive the virus because they need that robust immune response.
Lisa: Is it the coronavirus? Obviously…
Elizabeth: And coronavirus. Any kind of virus.
Lisa: Any kind of virus.
Elizabeth: It could be really helpful. But again, it's, especially here in the US — really, really hard to get. As you know, and where you are as well, super hard to get. But it's a great adjunct for patients who are doing chemotherapy.
The sad thing is, in some countries, they just naturally do it along with chemotherapy. For like your mom, when started going through… Like I said, I'm never an advocate of saying, ‘Don't do all the traditional approaches.’ Because I do think there's some value to them. But we want to support the body along with it.
Definitely want thymosin alpha-1 on board in relatively high amounts depending on how the immune system is getting affected. So, you follow things like, ‘What is happening to the lymphocytes?’ We want to keep the lymphocyte count going?
Lisa: Yes, this is one of the first things that eluded me to anything before even she had the mouth droop and the stuff that actually was pointed us towards the tumour. There's a company called Vivoo who I'm interviewing the CEO shortly. It's a stick that you weigh on, and it gives you your ketone bodies, it gives you your pH, it gives you your kidney function, your liver function, and it gives you white blood cell count.
That was the first thing, actually, mom's white blood cell count came back bad — really bad. That was the first — I didn't understand something. Then, a few days later, we saw the physical things, but these at-home diagnostic tests that are starting to come on the market is exciting.
Elizabeth: Early signs of things. That's what I said about — I see patients all the time that have these neutral lymphocyte ratios. I'm like, ‘Wow, your immune system is really screwed. We need to figure out what's going on, and try and get that back in order.’
I just saw a patient who came to me because she's young. She's 60-something, and then she has a kind of a rapidly progressive dementia. We've got a what's called a NeuroQuant brain scan on her, and we looked in — 90% loss brain matter means bad. Then, you look at her immune stuff, and something is really awry with her immune system too.
As you put those things together, you're like, ‘Okay, there's maybe a viral influence. There's something else that's going on here that we have to tackle that…’ That’s kind of affecting brain, but affecting your immune system.
These are simple things to look at. It's not hard to look and see that your lymphocyte count has gone from 40% to 20%, and like, ‘Oh, shit. That's not good.’
Lisa: This is why doing regular blood tests, and being pre-emptive and being preventative is just so important. You go to your standard GP and they're like, ‘What do you want there for? Why do you want to buy these for?’
Elizabeth: CBC is something every doc does every year, but then they don't look at it and say, ‘Oh, well, this is a little weird. This ratio is off.’ They don't even look at that. I don't think I was ever taught that in med school — what that ratio meant, and yet we know that for every point above 1.5 to 1 that your risk of dying goes up is considerably. It's dramatic.
There's other little signs too that things are going awry. Like albumin dropping, right. We know when the albumin starts dropping that the body is in a stress state. You can predict people who are going to do well with cancers.
For instance, if you can get albumin levels high and you can maintain them, you're going to do better. We know the albumin is another marker that the liver produces the albumin. When the body is under stress status, it doesn't produce as much albumin,
Lisa: It's a transporter, isn't it? For a lot of our hormones and protein.
Elizabeth: Exactly. Docs don't look at that. They don't look, ‘Oh, my gosh. Albumin is three. This doesn’t bode well for even my drugs working very well for her. So we have to get the albumin levels up.’ It’s difficult, but she got to work on that. Some of the things you can look at, too, is look at the cell size. You and I've talked about this, too.
If you think about damaged cells, these cells that we kind of consider are zombie cells — the damaged cells, the senescent cells, right? Well, because they're stuck in these just continuous cycles, and they're spewing all these proteins, they get bigger, and bigger, and bigger. So senescent cells are bigger than nice, young, healthy cells. Simply, you can look at things like the size of the cells, which is a basic $6 blood test looking at cell volume, and the red cell distribution width. You can look at those two things.
When red cell distribution width starts going up, from above 12.3, for instance, other cells are getting bigger, something's going wrong with myself. These are all just signs that things are going awry, that nobody really pays any attention to. I hate that people order labs, and they never look at this. And this is a $6 test.
Lisa: I'm doing stuff in your BLI academy that you have where people can come and join, by the way — and please do — have you got that blood test course in there yet? Because I haven’t…
Elizabeth: We're actually going to put… So one of our things we're going to do in January is when to put together a course that it’s actually… We'll walk you through what do each of these numbers mean and your blood test so people can actually just do their blood test. Then, we'll walk you through.
‘If this number is above this, this is what we need to look at. That’s what you need to do.’ So that people can actually start interpreting that stuff. We actually had that course put together. It was actually a live person course. When COVID hit, unfortunately, everything…
We're going to try and redo that. Probably we’ll do it both as a live course. I want people to actually — maybe they’ll be able to draw the blood, but we'll also put it online so that people can kind of do it from other places as well.
That's really critical stuff is to look at those little tiny markers that just predict that even if something isn't wrong yet, if you get an insult, then it's going to go wrong. That's why when you look at your mom with developing lymphoma and this EBV, you're like, ‘Well, people don’t think about EBV?’ Lots of people are people that are asymptomatic from EBV. You get some people who remember having mono vividly. I don't remember having mono. Maybe I had, maybe I didn't. Most people got exposed to mono.
It's funny to me. It's like, ‘Oh, it’s mono.’ Nobody really thinks about the long term ramifications. I mean, it scares me to death for my son who really had — he got hit hard. I don't tell him this. I don't say, ‘Listen, we got to really watch for lymphoma in you.’ But he's got a high risk. He has a 50% increased risk of developing lymphoma with age.
That happens as we get older because our immune system has now been taxed for so long. If we could say okay, ‘Yes, you have this virus. Let's try and eradicate anyways. Let's keep your immune system healthy as long as we can until 150.’ Hopefully, that doesn't ever become — it doesn't impact us.
Lisa: He’s lucky to have you as a mom.
Elizabeth: He doesn’t even listen to my podcast.
Lisa: Your own family, yeah? They have no idea what you do.
Elizabeth: Exactly. Will anybody watch my podcast? No, it’s kind of boring.
Lisa: Well, I do and I love it, and a lot of my listeners do too. Love what you're doing. It is having a massive impact. One day, your kids will wake up and go, ‘Oh, Mum was right.’ Mum is always right. Well, your sisters are always right. Are you listening brothers? It is unfortunate that you and your family because then you rave it on about stuff for years. They just turn out to —
Elizabeth: When something’s wrong — right. When something’s wrong — all the time. Exactly. But they’re not going to listen to me for that, right?
Lisa: I wanted to just talk a little bit about immune system because we are dealing with corona right around the world. We've got new variants, we've got two bloody lockdowns, we've got a lot of stressors, and we've got everything going wrong.
How can we naturally support our body so that if we are unfortunate, or even if we're getting vaccines because we want to, like you said, thymosin alpha-1 helps support your body create antibodies and all of this. I don't care which side of the vaccine debate you stand. Both sides are welcome on this podcast because we just need to have open debate. That's all I'm asking. Open, honest, clear debate about these things, and being able to just…
Elizabeth: Just science, right?
Lisa: Science would be nice. Say no more. But what I want us to actually — what can we do naturally with our nutrition, our supplementation to support our bodies whether we're having the vaccine or whether we're having the virus — the hit the virus is hitting us. What can we do to prepare?
Elizabeth: Some stuff that I think a lot of people hear about —- we know that vitamin D is just… Here's again where the science just keeps getting neglected. It was funny. I was giving a talk at the Dave Asprey Biohacking Conference. At our table, he had these little pins that were our vitamin D passport, ‘Here’s your passports.’ Instead of a vaccine passport, we had our vitamin D passport.
Honestly, the data really supports. If your vitamin D levels are robust, your likelihood of getting the virus is extremely small. In fact, all the data and all the scientific evidence points that way. Yet, people are still not giving enough vitamin D. Honestly, almost everybody needs about 10,000 IUs of vitamin D — and usually taking it with K2 because it's going to get it intracellularly.
There are a small number of people… Vitamin D requires a binding protein to get it from the serum into the cell. You and I talked about this before, is that there are a small number people who you'll get their serum levels, and they'll be super high, and the docs will freak out.
When we do testing, we look at intracellular levels too. As these people with very, very high serum levels, but their intracellular levels are low because they don't have enough of this binding protein to carry the vitamin D into the cell… The transport protein — exactly. There are some people who really honestly you can't —
It’s not really a great substitute from sunlight, but the downside being sunlight is that people get wrinkles, and you burn, and that can be an issue. I mean, you've got pretty dark skin, I've got pretty dark skin. We're a little bit protected. But you have those pale people — they get sun and they immediately burn. How are they going to get vitamin D absorbed?
There's lamps — certain wavelengths lamps will give you vitamin D absorption that people can utilise for an hour a day. There's other things you can do. I would say everybody needs 10,000 IUs of vitamin D. Taking it with some K2 is ideal, and they make a lot of supplements to have the two put together just because you'll get more carried into the cell that way
If you can get sunlight exposure, get some sunlight exposure even if it's just a little bit during the daytime hours. It’s harder to get… It’s winter here. It’s summer for you guys — getting towards summer, now, for you guys. But we’re getting to…
Lisa: Is that why you have more colds and the flu in the winter because of the sunlight?
Elizabeth: Definitely. It's because we're inside. It's a lot of it has to do with you look at vitamin D levels in the winter, and they go way down. It is really a key and I can't emphasise it enough. If you are not taking vitamin D during this COVID world, that is just dumb.
People get really scared. Vitamin D, actually, upregulates one of our antimicrobial peptides. Again, we talked about peptides. There's a peptide that our body makes called an LL-37. LL-37 is a really good antimicrobial peptide. It helps us to fight off infections. Whether that be wounds or viral infections, but our own antimicrobial peptides system is really —
Vitamin D, actually, upregulates some of our antimicrobial peptides. It's actually — instead of buying expensive LL-37, you can actually take more vitamin D and upregulate your own LL-37. That's one of the ways it really is extremely helpful. LL-37 is a great antiviral agent, too, so we use that in a lot of viral illnesses.
We talked about ways to eradicate some of these viruses. LL-37 is a way. Well, not everybody can get LL-37, so pick somebody and make a little bit more of your own. Theres been a huge fear about taking too much vitamin D because they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s fat-soluble. You can’t take too much —’ Literally, Lisa, the studies have shown that you need to be taking massive amounts to ever become toxic. At 10,000, nobody is going to become toxic. You really honestly don't have to worry about it.
Lisa: That's great because I've been on 5000, and I've now been a bit scared to go above that.
Elizabeth: No, there's nobody who's become toxic on 10,000. I would say it’s at least 50,000 IUs taken on a regular basis. Then, a few people might become toxic but it's pretty rare even at that. One patient ever became toxic, and she was taking — I think one drop was supposed to be about 5000 IUs… Whatever this vitamin D supplement that she bought. It was a liquid.
She was doing it like five dropperfuls a day. She's like, ‘Oh, I thought one dropperful was 1000.’ So she was doing five — so she was probably doing, I don't know, 500,000 IUs a day. Then, once she started getting nauseous, and we checked her levels and they were high. We stopped and she was fine. Don't be afraid to do that.
Lisa: This seems to be toxins or something in the environment — I don't think we know really. But there seems to be this risk aversion, like something that's stopping us…
Elizabeth: We're just not in the sun. We're inside all the time. Therefore, in the sun, we're all wearing our sunblock because we were so afraid of wrinkles and skin cancer, so we're all wearing sunblock which blocks vitamin D absorption a bit. That's a problem because — it's tough, especially anybody who has darker skin.
African Americans, people like myself — Mediterranean origin, you tend to have lower vitamin D levels because if you think about it, you were designed to be in the sun all the time. Your body did not have to be super efficient to absorbing vitamin D because you spent all day in the sun. So you got plenty of it.
Now that we're not sitting out in the sun all day, we weren't meant to be inside. People were meant to be in the sun. People from Norwegian ancestries, things like that, their bodies got a little more efficient because they weren't in the sun all the time. They don't need nearly as much sun to get it.
If you're a darker skinned person, your likelihood of having low levels is much higher. Especially if you’re African-American population. They'll come in with — I want a vitamin D level above 70, and they'll come in with Vitamin D level below six.
Lisa: We do this in our DNA testing is vitamin D, your transporter genes —
Elizabeth: Exactly, so you can look at that. So, you know people who — you're going to either need more, or you're going to not be able to get it orally. Those are the people too or sometimes you have to stay out and say, ‘You need to get some sun.’
Lisa: There were a few other things. There was zinc — which is another easy cheap thing to do, everybody. Why is that important?
Elizabeth: When you look at viruses in general, as they utilise your zinc. They deplete your zinc for viral replication — one of the reasons you lose your taste and smell with COVID. What's the first sign of zinc deficiency? It's loss of taste and smell.
You can kind of guess somebody is zinc deficient by doing a smell test on them because people who have low zinc levels will have not nearly as good sense of smell or taste. You can actually do that to look for people who are somewhat depleted in zinc.
But you guys have noticed that. You're not smelling as well as somebody else or you can't taste as well as your friend — it may well be a zinc deficiency. But the virus really utilises zinc, especially this COVID virus. That may be one of the reasons we see the loss of taste and smell associated with COVID. We know that zinc is — by having higher levels of zinc, that's going to help support us.
Lisa: Can you overdo zinc?
Elizabeth: You can. Mostly, it has to do with keeping a zinc copper ratio.
Lisa: So, buy one with a zinc-copper ratio in it.
Elizabeth: You want about a one to one zinc copper ratio. When people are taking lots of zinc, and they don't have as much copper because most of us don't take as much copper. We’re not taking copper very much. Everyone’s taking tons of zinc now because they know it's antiviral, but not copper. If that ratio gets off too much, we'll actually start getting weird neurologic things.
They’ll almost look at things like those freaking weird numbness and tingling — things like that. That's getting that ratio off. Copper also can become toxic. You don't want to take too much copper. If you're taking a lot of zinc, you might want to add a little two milligrams of copper to keep it balanced, right. Or, what I really like I love buying like — you can buy copper peptide creams — face creams — because copper peptides are so good for your skin. GHK copper helps to — for collagens, and some other peptides.
GHK copper, you can inject it but you can also just use it as a topical skin agent. It's great for wrinkles and it's great for skin integrity. Loren Pickart is this 90-something-year-old guy who really discovered GHK copper. If you can ever get him on the show, he's kind of delightful. He's the guy who’s investigating all about GHK copper
He has an entire site called reverseskinaging.com that actually has tons of these creams that are great — not horribly expensive face creams. Well, if you use this copper peptide cream on your skin and on your face, you're going to get a nice little absorption of copper, too, along with helping age spots and wrinkles and collagen integrity.
It's kind of a nice little way to keep copper levels up — not get too much, not get nauseous from it and still get some good benefits from it. So that's where you can kind of overdo the zinc. Ratio is important.
Lisa: Quercetin helps get zinc into the cell too doesn't it?
Elizabeth: Quercetin is good too as well. Quercetin has a lot of other benefits and quercetin is useful in your cancer journey too.
Lisa: What I'm finding in my research in this deep dive into cancer that I hadn't actually been in this area before is that everything that's — there's resveratrol and quercetin — all these things are actually good for cancer as well as for the viruses stuff.
Elizabeth: Make criss cross, and it actually works on that glucose transport too so it's blocking some like glucose transport. That's really why it's kind of helpful in cancer cells is it's blocking that GLUT1 receptor, so it's keeping the glucose out of the cells a bit. That's where it's really advantageous for the cancer cells,
Lisa: You know so much it’s on top of your head. Then, they were drugs too… That helps the zinc get into the cell. I think that's the methodologies that works. There was one called honokiol — that magnolia bark extract…
Elizabeth: Magnolia officinalis, right? Honokiol is actually really interesting, and also known as Relora. It is basically made from magnolia. Now, it's kind of an amazing immune modulating agent. Don't ask me exactly the mechanisms. I'm not sure I can really deep dive into that. But we know it has great antiviral properties. It's also a great thing for adrenal function too. We use it a lot just to help people who are stressed. We’ll have them take a little Relora at night because it's super — it sort of settles down cortisol.
But it also has some really interesting antiviral properties as well. It's something that has some, again, dual benefits in this kind of stressed world. Take a little bit of Relora before you go to bed — you'll sleep better. Your cortisol levels will be better, your adrenal glands will be protected, and you're also fighting against COVID. Then, there's things like zeolites. I don’t know how familiar you are with using zeolites —
Lisa: No, about to get some today.
Elizabeth: They're great for cancer, too, right? The way they work in virus is — zeolites are when basically, simplistically, volcanic ash kind of hits water, it forms this negatively charged sort of cage like structure, and they're used a lot in dentistry for mercury toxicity.
When your dentists take out your mercury fillings — the really good dentists, not for so good dentist — but when the good dentists are taking out mercury fillings, they'll put people on the zeolites because it'll help detox the mercury out of your system. Or, if you're eating a lot of sushi — things like that, this is something you want to do because everybody who eats a lot of sushi has high mercury levels. Everybody. They've got to detox mercury out.
One of the problems with most of our detox agents is they're negatively-charged, they bind all the positively-charged things. That gets rid of, unfortunately, good things like calcium and magnesium, and all that good stuff that we need. Then, you have to replace all these things where people are having muscle cramps and kidney failure.
Zeolites — because they're these cages, the bigger things like calcium and magnesium and all these good positively-charged things can't get into the cage. But what can get in is these positively-charged things like mercury, arsenic — those kind of bad toxins. But also when viruses get into our system — they're not full viruses, they're actually parts of viruses just by protein. But they're parts of viruses.
When they’re still parts, they actually have this again, positive charge and they're tiny enough that they, so those parts get picked up by these little cages and get excreted. In a viral infection, you can use the natural cellular defense to help get rid of the virus or you so early on — let's say, you get the virus and you don't even know.
So people are using a little bit o