Review: The UltraMind Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman

Approaching Infinity

FOTCM Member
Here's a summary/review I wrote of Dr. Hyman's book. I left out some of the stuff we have discovered is questionable based on other research (e.g. food recommendations that seem to be allergens or toxic), but I'm sure there are more parts that can be updated or added to. So, if you see anything 'off', please point it out.

The UltraMind Solution
by Mark Hyman
New York: Scribner, 2008
449 pages

What is disease? Depending on who you ask, and what school of thought they follow, you’ll get different answers. Just look at the divide between Eastern and Western systems of medicine. Each have their staunch supporters, pro and con views, successes and failures. But just as the philosopher and teacher George Gurdjieff sought to unite what he called the wisdom of the East and the energy of the West, the recent field of Functional Medicine is combining a holistic view of health with the rigors of empirical science in a way that actually works. In his book, The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First, Mark Hyman, M.D., outlines some of the principles of Functional Medicine, providing detailed explanations of the interdependent systems that determine our health and cause disease, and the simple steps we can take get our bodies and minds back on track.

The book begins with Dr. Hyman’s own story; how after working in China for a year, his body and brain seemed to break. His mind got foggy, he lost the ability to concentrate, his memory went downhill. He suffered insomnia, depression, anxiety, diarrhea, and fatigue. In a word, he reached rock bottom, mentally and physically, which catapulted him into a period of searching for the answers that neither he nor his fellow physicians could provide. The principles and facts that he discovered ultimately cured him (among other things, he discovered he was suffering from mercury toxicity) and led to his practice of Functional Medicine. The book is peppered with case studies of his own patients, and the methods they used to cure themselves of chronic disease and various so-called mental disorders – anything from depression and anxiety to ADHD, autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. One of the take-home points of the book is that chronic symptoms are not something we have to live with, and they don’t “just happen”. In fact, they’re the precursors of disease – our body’s way of letting us know it’s being assaulted.

Contrary to popular belief, the phenomenon of disease is not as simple as “cause X produces disease Y”, and “drug Z” cures it. While there are tens of thousands of different “diseases”, there are actually only a handful of fundamental problems that cause them all. One disease may have multiple causes and one specific bodily imbalance may contribute to multiple different diseases. These manifest in a manner specific to the individual, as a result of systemic imbalances in the body. In short, there is no single drug or cure for any one disease. Drugs may attack the symptoms, offering some relief, but in reality they just stave off the inevitable – death – leaving the actual causes of imbalance untreated.

Closely related to disease is brain function. According to Hyman, brain function is affected by diet, nutritional deficiencies, allergens, infections, toxins and stress; simply put: diet, environment and stress. When these factors negatively affect brain function, they are then labeled “mental disorders”. Approximately sixty million American adults (one in four) have a psychiatric disorder; 40 million suffer from anxiety; 20 million from depression. As a result, one in ten Americans take antidepressants, 50% take at least one prescription drug a week, and 81% take at least one drug a week for various health-related problems. The solution: fix your body, fix your mind.

Not only are these drugs attacking symptoms – leaving causes untreated – the drugs are often toxic and dangerous to health and wellbeing. Many researchers and medical journals do not publish unfavorable results, or results that contradict the mandate of pharmaceutical interests. Often after an initial short term of testing, there are no follow-ups. That’s not to mention the problems of fraudulent research and Mob-like tactics of certain pharmaceutical companies. In other words, drugs that may have serious long-term side effects are allowed onto the market, where they are over-prescribed, even for unrelated problems (“off-label” usage, in official jargon). Thus, anti-psychotic drugs are used for many non-psychotic disorders, like autism and ADHD. These “diseases” are on the rise, as is the use of countless drugs for “treating” them.

But the brain can heal, repair and generate cells, particularly in the olfactory (smell) and hippocampus regions. The hippocampus is involved in mood regulation and memory, so its regeneration has important implications for Alzheimer’s, dementia, and memory loss. The hormone released in response to stress, cortisol, can damage cells when it is released excessively. The hippocampus is particularly vulnerable, eventually leading to these mood and memory problems. Relaxation, on the other hand (aided by deep breathing exercises), lowers the amount of cortisol being released, leading to a bigger and better-functioning hippocampus. Neurogenesis (the repair of brain cells) is promoted chiefly by hormones, growth factors, neurotransmitters, learning, and physical exercise.

We should be identifying and resolving the problems and imbalances in diet, stress and environment, which end up manifesting as disease, not fighting symptoms solely with drugs or psychoanalysis. Before we can hope to do any psychological work on ourselves, we must start by making sure our physical machine is in good working order, taking the bad stuff out and putting the good stuff in. When physical problems are fixed with proper nutrition, detoxification, and supplementation, our bodies and minds can then function the way they are supposed to. Thus previous, seemingly insurmountable problems (like major depression) can be more easily dealt with.

The Ultramind Solution is structured based on seven “keys” to optimal health (and disease), followed by a six-week program of Dr. Hyman’s design, and specific sections on optimizing each of the keys. The various quizzes for testing if you have a particular imbalance can be found on the forum. But first, Dr. Hyman identifies numerous common triggers of disease.

Gluten is found in all grains, such as wheat, barley, rye, oats, millet, corn, white and brown rice (although Dr. Hyman does not list the last three, recent research has uncovered that all grains contain gluten. See Dr. Peter Osborne’s research on the subject). Gluten causes brain inflammation (associated with countless mental disorders); can break down into brain-altering, opium-like gluteomorphins; and contains products that break down into glutamate, an excitotoxin that causes cell damage. It’s also implicated in dozens of different diseases, including schizophrenia, autism, and obesity, among many others. Bread in North America contains 5 times more gluten than is natural and while 30% of European descendants have the Celiac disease gene (merely one disease-manifestation of gluten sensitivity), gluten triggers an immune response resulting in intestinal inflammation in 83% of humans. This gut inflammation can lead directly to leaky gut syndrome, a condition which lets partially digested proteins, bacteria and other harmful substances pass through the gut lining undigested into the blood stream.

High fructose corn syrup (or any highly refined sugar) is addictive, and leads to an inflamed brain, diabetes, and obesity. It uses up the body’s vitamins and minerals, is associated with many mental disorders, and results in AGEs (advanced glycation end products) – crusty plaques found in the brain. Add to the list trans fats and hydrogenated oils, which damage cells and are inflammatory.

Relax – sudden stress – relax. This is what our bodies were designed for: long periods of relaxation punctuated by sudden stress-inducing dangers. Nowadays we suffer from chronic stress, a huge contributor to disease. Stress can be reduced by meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, hypnosis, laughter, biofeedback, sex, exercise, and sleep. Sleep is when the body repairs itself and heals. Ideally, we should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep actually helps to curb appetite, stopping those midnight carb cravings. And exercise rebuilds the brain by increasing our levels of “brain fertilizer” – BDNF, or brain-derived neurotropic factor. It also increases dopamine (the “attention” neurotransmitter) and serotonin (the “feel-good” neurotransmitter).

Another common offender, alcohol, is a brain toxin. It lowers brain metabolism and our B-vitamin levels, the vitamin responsible for mood boosting and energy synthesis. Statin drugs (used to lower cholesterol), beta-blockers, and antidiabetic drugs block CoQ10, which helps produce cell energy. B vitamins are also lowered by drugs like aspirin, diuretics, seizure meds, ibuprofen, and acid-blocking drugs, which prevent adequate digestion of proteins, mineral absorption, and can lead to intestine infections. Low B12 can lead to fatigue, dementia and depression.

Toxic Metals like lead, aluminum, and mercury are everywhere. They are in our medications, are expelled into the atmosphere from industrial smokestacks, and are then deposited into our bodies. Lead lowers intelligence and contributes to increased behavioral problems, depression and schizophrenia. Mercury (used in “silver” dental fillings and many vaccines) contributes to autism, ADHD, depression, and dementia. Since 1900, over 80,000 chemicals have been introduced into human life. Over 99% of these remain untested, and are found in various wastes, pollutants, and plastics. In addition, we are also exposed to food toxins in the form of hormones, antibiotics, additives, artificial sweeteners, MSG, and pesticides. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from cleaners, fire retardants and other household/environmental toxins add to this toxic burden. Molds can lead to an autoimmune response in our bodies (i.e., when the immune system attacks our body’s own tissues) and lead to various autonomic nervous system abnormalities. Lastly, electromagnetic (EM) waves alter our cell metabolism, increase free radicals in the body, and can negatively affect our memory. In short, we live in a toxic world, but there are steps we can take to alleviate the suffering these substances inevitably cause.

The seven keys are systems and processes in the body that keep it functioning. They all relate to how the body reacts to what it takes in from the outside world – from the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the experiences we live through. These inputs contain all the active elements we need to live: essential nutrients, proteins, fats, sugars, oxygen, as well as things like nurture, touch, and healthy relationships. But they can also have hidden dangers as well: from our nutrient-poor, calorie-dense diet; physical and psychological stress; various types of environmental and internal metabolic toxins; heavy metals; chemical additives and allergens in food, molds, dust, pollens and chemicals; because of microbes like bacteria, yeast, parasites and viruses; radiations; and stressful and traumatic experiences. The systems affected are interlinked, each affecting the others, thus problems in one area often mean problems in others.

The first of these keys – nutrition – has to do with the discrepancy between what our body needs us to take in, and what we actually give it. Food provides us with all the raw materials necessary for the maintenance of our bodies: from essential nutrients and energy-sources to the materials required to build the structures of all our cells. There is simply no role for foreign molecules in our food that negatively interfere with our biology, and so even before we put food in our mouth, we exercise a certain level of discernment. Our bodies let us know that rotten, rancid, foul-smelling stuff will not be appreciated and probably make us sick. But it’s not so easy nowadays, when harmful chemicals are hidden as “food additives”, and poison is made to taste great. As a quick rule, if your great grandmother didn’t have it in her kitchen, chances are it is not good for you! So the first step we can take is to be conscious of what we’re putting in our bodies.

1.1. Fats: In the distant past, humans consumed up to 20 grams per day of omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., DHA & EPA). Nowadays, our only real source is fish, game meats, seaweed, algae, and eggs fed on fishmeal and flaxseeds. While the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 intake used to be around 1:1, today it is closer to 20:1, a dangerous imbalance and deficiency which causes many health problems: from brain disorders to heart disease, cancer, skin problems, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Refined omega-6 oils (e.g., from corn, soy, and safflower) contain linoleic acid, which is inflammatory (see key #3). These fats change the composition of our tissues for the worse. Omega-3’s, on the other hand, control our gene function, reduce inflammation, balance our blood sugar, increase our BDNF activity, regulate our immune system and increase our metabolism. They also are a component of all of our cell membranes (the brain is 60% fat), and are thus essential for proper cell communication. If our membranes are unhealthy, communication in the billions of brain cell connections slows down. Omega-3’s make our membranes fluid and healthy, essential properties for the function of neurotransmitter receptors for serotonin (which helps depression), dopamine (which affects attention), and acetylcholine (which boosts memory). The fats in our cells thus affect how well the proteins (which make up our neurotransmitters and receptors) can do their job.

In addition to fatty acids, our cell membranes are composed of phospholipids, cholesterol, and protein. Phosphatidylcholine (PC), found in eggs and sardines, is the most abundant molecule in your cell membranes, is essential for producing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, helps boost our detoxification system, and lowers our levels of harmful cortisol. Phosphatidylserine (PS) is found in all cell membranes in nature, and it improves memory, cognition, mood, attention, and reduces aggression. 

1.2. Protein/Amino Acids: Neurotransmitters are made from amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Neurotransmitters are the messenger molecules of the body and determine our mood, learning, attention, memory, and overall brain function. There are two types: excitatory (dopamine and acetylcholine) and inhibitory (GABA and serotonin). Excitatory NTs turn systems “on”, excite, activate you, help you focus; inhibitory NTs make you feel calm, happy, and relaxed. 

Dopamine, composed of the amino acid tyrosine, is involved with pleasure and reward; it makes you focused and stimulates you to engage in life. It is low in drug addicts and people suffering from depression; stimulants mimic its effects. People with ADHD and autism often are born with bad dopamine receptors, and benefit from proper diet and supplementation. Essential fats and nutrients (e.g., folate, B12, B6) help improve its production and receptors. 

Serotonin makes us happy, lowers our anxiety and irritability, and helps us sleep (via its conversion to melatonin). Many people crave carbohydrates because of the temporary serotonin boost they receive (after which they crash). Low levels are cause by a number of things: low levels of the amino acid tryptophan; high cortisol from stress (which breaks down serotonin); inflammation (e.g., cytokines break down tryptophan into brain cell-killing glutamate); low B6, folate, B12, 5-HTP levels (B6 helps convert amino acids into NTs); blood sugar imbalances; and low magnesium levels (caused by stress, sugar intake, caffeine, alcohol).

GABA calms our brain and helps us relax after the release of excitatory/stress hormones (like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine). People with anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, seizures, and schizophrenia have low GABA levels. The characteristic “tired-but-wired” feeling causes many to self-medicate with drugs like Valium, alcohol and marijuana. Taking GABA can result in increased alpha waves within an hour and boost your immune system. Taurine, B vitamins and magnesium all boost GABA.

Acetylcholine, made of the B-vitamin choline, helps with memory and learning new things. It sharpens the mind, motivation and concentration. Alzheimer’s drugs (as well as SSRIs) block the breakdown of acetylcholine, ignoring the problem of why the brain cells are damaged and not functioning properly in the first place. 

1.3. Carbohydrates are the most important food for long-term health and brain function. We need them from whole, nourishing plant foods like veggies, fruits, beans, herbs and spices. They contain all the essential vitamins and minerals, fiber (for digestion), and phytonutrients (e.g., green tea has anti-inflammatory, detoxification, and antioxidant properties). The slowly released sugars from these carbohydrates also help keep our serotonin levels even.

1.4. Vitamins and Minerals: 92% of Americans are deficient in at least one vitamin. The foods we eat no longer contain nutrient levels optimal for health. The soils in which our fruits and vegetables grow are depleted of nutrients (pesticides actually make plants lazy, further lowering their nutrient content). The animals we eat are kept cooped up in small areas and fed unnatural foods and chemicals. In these conditions, we all need supplementation to live healthily. Additionally, we need more than just the officially recommended levels, which are actually just the minimum intake at which we won’t experience the negative effects of a deficiency, like scurvy or rickets (as if vitamin C’s only purpose was to stave off scurvy!). Otherwise we run the risk of long-latency diseases (ones that only show up after a period of time). In fact, we all have unique nutritional and biochemical needs (some need up to 100 times more of some nutrients than average), a fact of Functional Medicine that is ignored by mainstream “norm-or-nothing” medicine. 

Nutrients are important because they tell enzymes what to do: when to turn on or off every chemical reaction that takes place in your cells. They are also essential in the process of making neurotransmitters (e.g., B6 is necessary for the enzyme that converts tryptophan into serotonin). One third of the entire variation in our DNA affects the function of enzymes! Each nutrient has multiple jobs, so deficiencies can take many forms (from less severe versions of the common deficiency disease to completely different symptoms).

Methylators (folate, B6, B12): Problems in the methylation and sulfation “trains” in the body, along which methyl groups and sulfur are taken to their necessary destinations, are involved in all forms of mental illness and neurological dysfunction, heart disease, and cancer. These problems are affected by genes and environment, which can include a nutrient-poor diet and an excess of toxins. While the B vitamins provide the methyl for mythlation, sulfation requires sources of sulfur: broccoli, garlic, fish and poultry, all high in methionine. Sulfur is also boosted by supplements such as NAC, alphalipoic acid, and milk thistle. 

Metyhlation is essential for our 1) DNA (it protects, repairs, and switches genes on or off), 2) neurotransmitters (their production and removal, preparing their receptors, making cell membranes more fluid, and helping produce PC), 3) antioxidant system (lowers cell-damaging homocysteine, controls oxidative stress via glutathione), 4) detoxification (helps recycle detoxification molecules like glutathione), 5) reducing inflammation (via glutathione), and 6) preventing disease (like dementia, ADHD, autism, cancer, heart disease, depression, etc.). 

Vitamin D: We actually need 25 times more vitamin D than is recommended for daily intake. It is virtually absent from our diet, and our levels drop in the winter. Most of us require 80–100% of our intake from the sun, which many avoid! As a result, most people are deficient, which can lead to sore, achy muscles, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, depression, dementia, cancer, weak bones, and more.

Magnesium (found in sea veggies, greens and beans) is the relaxation mineral. It is used in over 300 enzyme reactions (mostly in the brain, bones, and muscles) and is necessary for cells to make their energy, work chemical pumps, stabilize membranes, and relax muscles. Not getting enough can lead to tightness, irritability, crankiness, stiffness, anxiety, fatigue, cramps, diabetes, PMS, IBS, insomnia, etc. Our diet has virtually no magnesium and 50% of Americans are deficient. Stress, alcohol, caffeine and sugar all lower our magnesium levels.

Zinc & Selenium are the brain minerals, and keep it happy and healthy. 33% of people are deficient in zinc, which is used by over 300 enzymes (the most of any mineral), and is necessary for DNA replication, repair, and protein synthesis. It is important in immunity and controlling inflammation, for activating digestive enzymes (thus preventing many food allergies that result from incomplete digestion), and helping detoxification. Zinc deficiency can lead to depression, problems with brain function, and convulsions. Schizophrenics need it especially. Selenium helps make thyroid hormone (important for brain function and mood), glutathione (the arch-detoxifier and -antioxidant), and fatty acids. 

Besides better nutrition, some people need additional support via supplementation for phospholipids and neurotransmitters: phospholipids (PS, PC or CDP-choline); serotonin (5-HTP or tryptophan); GABA (GABA and theanine); dopamine (L-tyrosine and I-phenylanine); acetylcholine (PC).

When our hormones are out of balance (a result of imbalance in any of the seven keys), we experience mood fluctuations, the feeling of “tired but wired”, depression and other mental problems, obesity, poor sleep, PMS, and sluggishness. Our bodies have three main communication systems: the nervous system (messengers: neurotransmitters), the endocrine system (messengers: hormones), and the immune system (messengers: cytokines); all part of the larger psycho-neuro-endocrine-immune (PNEI) system. The master control of the endocrine system is our hypothalamus, and our pituitary gland controls thyroid, adrenal (cortisol and adrenaline) and sex hormones. They send messages to control stress (via the adrenals), blood-sugar (via the pancreas and its release of insulin), thyroid function, sex, growth and sleep. The biggest problems result from too much insulin (from sugar), too much cortisol and adrenalin (from stress), and not enough thyroid hormone. All these interconnect with our sex hormones (all these will be dealt with in more detail in an upcoming review of T. S. Wiley’s and Bent Formby’s book, Lights Out). Focus on insulin, thyroid, sex hormones, melatonin, growth hormone, and cortisol can bring the rest back into balance.

2.1 Insulin helps sugar enter our cells to be metabolized for energy. Today, we eat 2.5 times more sugar in one day than our hunter-gatherer ancestors did in an entire year. Our insulin response isn’t designed for these amounts of sugar, causing our bodies to produce more and more insulin, to which our cells then develop a resistance (called insulin resistance or prediabetes), preventing sugar from entering cells. This tells our body that we’re starving, when in fact we’re not, and leads to cravings for more sugar. Prediabetes leads to a cascade of brain damage and steals the memory of over 50% of people in their 80’s in the form of Alzheimer’s. However, it can be caught in its early stages (as early as childhood), taking the form of predementia (as simple as having difficulty remembering names and faces) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Insulin also affects fat storage, mood and behavior (depression, fatigue, anxiety, poor focus and memory, dementia), increases bad cholesterol (LDL), lowers good cholesterol (HDL), increases triglycerides, blood pressure, blood clots, cancer cells, inflammation and oxidative stress, homocysteine (because sugar lowers B6 and folate levels, throwing our methylation train off track), infertility, and hair loss. 

2.2 Thyroid gland runs our metabolism and body function and is sensitive to many influences. Its associated problems have increased with pollution and exposure to toxins (environmental chemicals like PCBs, chloride, fluoride, bromide all increase elimination of thyroid hormone). 20% of women and 10% of men have low thyroid function. Thyroid hormone is critical for neurogenesis, and low levels lead to mood disorders, lowered serotonin function, fatigue, trouble waking up, bad memory, insomnia, dry skin and hair, constipation, fluid retention, menstrual problems, hair loss, PMS, cracked fingernails, low sex drive, weight gain, and muscle aches. Gluten sensitivity is also a major contributor to thyroid problems.

2.3 Sex hormones, besides regulating our reproductive functions, act on the brain to affect mood and cognition. Estrogen increases serotonin, lowers the risk of dementia, but too much can cause cancer. Progesterone acts on GABA receptors to reduce stress, while low levels lead to anxiety and insomnia. Testosterone improves mood, motivation and cognition but drops because of weight, lack of exercise, stress, and high sugar intake (insulin resistance leads to low testosterone and high estrogen levels). Drastic changes in these hormone levels (as in menopause and andropause) are not normal and invitable; they’re the result of bad habits and are signs of imbalance. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, hormones in meat, estrogen-like toxins in pesticides and plastics, stress, and lack of exercise all contribute to these imbalances (e.g., strong PMS). For example, alcohol damages the liver, preventing excretion of excess estrogen, and gut bacteria imbalances can promote the re-absorption of estrogen from the gut into the blood. 

2.4 Sleep is part of our body’s natural cycle, during which it releases repairing and healing hormones like melatonin and growth hormone, which repairs DNA and regulates mood and weight. These get disturbed by lack of good sleep.

Solutions: Insulin: chromium, glucomannan fiber (or PGX or konjac root), ALA, biotin, NAC, various herbs (like ginseng, green tea, fenugreek, and garlic). Thyroid: seaweed and sea vegetables (which contain iodine), omega-3 fats, vitamin D, dandelion greens (vitamin A), herring and scallops (selenium), active T3 (as opposed to inactive T4). Sex hormones: ground flaxseeds, evening primrose oil, Chasteberry Fruit Extract and DIM (for PMS), Black cohosh (for menopause). In severe cases, only bioidentical hormones should be used for hormone replacement therapy.

Inflammation is the body’s natural defense against infection, irritation, and toxins. These foreign molecules mobilize our white blood cells and cytokines (the immune system’s communication system) to protect our bodies from the invaders. Inflammation is experienced as pain and swelling and manifests with redness and heat. This system can get out of balance, leading to systemic inflammation in which it ends up attacking our own cells and all our body parts. It is a factor in all chronic diseases: autoimmunity, allergies, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes. Hidden inflammation in the brain has also been linked to all forms of “brain disease”, including depression, dementia, autism, anxiety, schizophrenia, and criminal behavior.

For example, the brains of autistic children show signs of inflammation, and 95% have gastrointestinal problems; they are prone to infections and allergies, a history of antibiotic use, and have altered immune function. It seems autism is really a systemic metabolic disorder. Antibiotics (which kill the gut’s good bacteria), low dietary fiber, high sugar intake, exposure to pesticides, alcohol, caffeine, hormones, steroids, acid-blocking meds, etc., all harm the digestive tract, causing widespread inflammation (60% of our immune system is in our gut). It then spreads to the brain. There is no one gene for autism. It is simply one manifestation (probably influenced by certain hereditary factors) of a problem with many manifestations, e.g., ADHD and other developmental problems.

A high levels of cytokines (the result of an overactive immune system) and bacterial toxins lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety; cytokines overactivate our stress response (the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis); they also increase the function of the enzyme (IDO) which breaks down tryptophan, lowering serotonin levels in the brain. Vagal nerve stimulation (see key #7) stimulates production of acetylcholine, which lowers cytokines, and exercise and omega-3’s also reduce inflammation. Thus, all can help with symptoms of depression.

What gets the system out of balance in the first place? Our inflammatory, high-sugar, processed food diet (complete with refined flours and trans fats); food allergens causing delayed reactions in the brain; digestive and gut immune imbalances; toxins like mercury and pesticides; chronic infections; stress; a sedentary lifestyle; less than 7 hours of sleep a night; deficiencies such as vitamins C, B, D, zinc, omega-3. The biggest offenders for inflammation are coincidentally two of our staple foods: sugar and gluten. Refined carbohydrates trigger the release of insulin (which in turn triggers cytokines), cortisol, and adrenaline. As for allergens (which prompt an immune response, and thus inflammation), there are two kinds of allergies: acute (IgE) and delayed (IgG). Acute allergies are immediate (like peanut allergy), while delayed reactions can take days to manifest, making them difficult to track. The increase in allergies these days is caused by our 21st century habits. Our gut barrier gets broken down by all the insults we heap upon it, to the point that it cannot adequately protect us from foreign substances harmful to our bodies. When the gut lining breaks down (as in leaky gut), food particles can pass through, triggering our immune response, which interprets them as invaders.

“Leaky brain”, on the other hand, is when toxins, small peptides from gluten and dairy, antibodies, infections, bugs, and cytokines get into the brain. Indeed, food allergies have mental symptoms. First, they can cause brain inflammation. Second, partially digested food proteins – peptides from gluten (gluteomorphins) and casein (caseomorphins) – can disrupt our neurotransmitter function. Third, they can act is excitotoxins, increasing glutamate, which results in brain cell injury. Common allergies include: gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, soy, nuts, nightshades, citrus and yeast. Other sources of inflammation are molds, medications, and common toxins.

Solution: Exercise, multivitamins, anti-inflammatory herbs (turmeric, ginger, rosemary), eliminating common allergens.

Our gut is the center of our health. Its functions include: 1) breaking down/digesting food with stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and bile; 2) absorbing the necessary molecules through its 1-cell-thick barrier; 3) blocking toxins, bugs, and harmful chemicals from getting into our bloodstream; 4) the three pounds of bacteria living in our gut help produce vitamins and other important molecules; 5) our gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) accounts for 60% of our immune system, lying right beneath the 1-cell barrier and protecting us from illness. Our brain experiences all of this via nervous system feedback, immune activity, and the communication of cytokines. Our diet can change our gut ecosystem, stress can damage our gut barrier, then toxins, allergens, viruses, bacteria, and medications can trigger immune reactions.

The Gut-Brain: The gut has its own nervous system (the ENS, or enteric nervous system), connected to the central nervous system via the autonomic nervous system. It contains all the neurotransmitters and produces 95% of our serotonin. The ENS coordinates muscle cell contraction to move food along, triggers gut hormone and enzyme release for digestion, keeps blood flowing, controls gut immune and inflammatory cells. Our central nervous system is intimately tied to our gut (e.g., stress causing diarrhea), but the connection goes both ways. For example, when large-intestine bacteria migrate to the small intestine, they trigger an immune and nervous system response, sending signals to the brain that result in insomnia, anxiety, depression, and impaired cognitive function.

Gut Bacteria: The good bacteria in our large intestine helps us digest our food, make vitamins (like vitamin K and biotin), detoxifies poisons, produces energy for intestinal cells, regulates cholesterol metabolism, and balances pH. When we don’t eat enough fiber (which good bacteria likes), eat too much sugar (which bad bacteria likes), or take antibiotics, the bad bacteria takes over, which along with yeast produce brain toxins. They ferment sugary, starchy foods, resulting in gas, toxic levels of ammonia, and “autointoxication” with the alcohol produced.

Peptides: Gluteomorphins and caseomorphins, partially digested proteins from gluten and milk, trigger an immune response and inflammation. They also leak into the body and brain, triggering messed up brain function as a result of their similarity to mind-altering drugs. Zinc deficiency, low pancreas functioning, low stomach acid, and toxins can all lower levels of digestive enzymes, leading to the creation of these peptides. In turn, they can cause illnesses ranging from autism and behavioral problems to depression and schizophrenia.

A bad gut means our bodies can’t adequately absorb omega-3’s, magnesium, zinc, vitamin D, and various other vitamins and minerals. For example, acid-blocking drugs lower the acidity in our stomach leading to lower digestion, which increases the bad bacteria in the small intestine, hindering its ability to absorb essential nutrients.

Solution: Clear out bad bacteria (with antifungals or by starving them of the foods they love, like grains, sugar and alcohol), eliminate food allergens, take digestive enzymes (2 capsules per meal, containing proteases, lipases, and amylases), take probiotics, prebiotics, glutamine, healing nutrients, and relax. Eat slowly, chewing each bite up to 2 dozen times, sitting down, and not doing anything else besides eating (no eating at the computer)!

Toxins are everywhere. As mentioned above, of the over 80,000 new chemicals introduced into our environment over the last 200 years, over 99% remain untested. Mercury, for example, accumulates in the body if it is not properly detoxified, and 50% of people lack the gene (GSTM1) necessary for its detoxification. Heavy metals in general block metabolic pathways, including the making of hemoglobin, which is essential for carrying oxygen in our blood. The body’s reaction to these numerous toxins is determined by combinations of certain genes, and many factors can affect those genes’ functioning. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism and depression are all linked with poor detoxification systems.

The key organ of this system is the liver, and the enzymes which make the phases of detoxification possible. In the first phase, the liver gets the toxins ready for detoxification, producing free radicals in the process (for which antioxidants are essential). Then, in the second phase, these dangerous by-products are packaged to excrete in urine, bile, and stool. While these free radicals roam free, they cause oxidative stress, damaging our mitochondria, and leading to inflammation, cell over-excitation, and cell death. If our detox system isn’t running up to snuff, these effects can contribute to depression, fatigue, sleep disorders, brain fog, dementia, ADHD and autism.

Autistic children, for example, are found to have abnormally low levels of glutathione (a deficiency shared by many sufferers of chronic illnesses). Glutathione is essential to detoxification, lowering inflammation, and dealing with free radicals in the body. 50% of people lack the gene that helps production of Glutathione, so a supplement like NAC, or foods like garlic and broccoli can help boost its levels. The sulfur in glutathione (brought by the sulfation train, and found in foods like garlic, onions, and protein) sticks to toxins so they can be excreted. It also recycles antioxidants. But high oxidative stress caused by toxins, the breakdown of our sulfation or methylation trains, low intake of sulfur and methylation nutrients all cause our glutathione levels to deplete. Toxins build up, and we get sick.

Hyman recommends using an infrared sauna, encouraging the excretion of heavy metals and toxins stored in fat via sweating. Other methods described in the book include using chelating agents (like DMSA) to get rid of built-up heavy metals in our bodies, getting our methylation train up and running with good B vitamins, and eating foots rich in phytonutrients. It’s the detoxification system, after all, that keeps all seven keys optimized.

Our brains and bodies need energy to function. The brain actually has the most mitochondria in our bodies and uses the most energy. Mitochondria (the “power plants” of our cells) convert calories and oxygen to produce energy in the form of ATP (they consume 90% of our intake of oxygen). When we burn calories, we end up with free radicals, again leading to oxidative stress. But our standard diet not only has way too many empty calories, but not enough antioxidants to take care of the problem (found in vibrantly colored foods like blueberries, sweet potatoes and collard greens). We lack the necessary enzymes and essential nutrients. Our mitochondria suffer as a result, being highly sensitive to inflammation and toxicity. Without the necessary energy produced, our metabolism slows down and our cells stop functioning at the levels they should. Good fats are also essential for forming the mitochondrial membranes and keeping them healthy. Wonky hormones, oxidative stress caused by derailed sulfation and methylation trains, and damaged mitochondria all affect our metabolism.

Hyman recommends proper supplementation (e.g. ALA, CoQ10, Acetyl-L-carnitine, NDAH, D-ribose, B3, B2 and omega-3’s) as well as removing the common causes to mitochondrial dysfunction. For example, magnesium, zinc, GABA, vitamins B6 and D, and NAC all act as a brake on the overactivation of the NMDA receptor, cells’ natural on-off switch that balances their activities. Too much activation, caused by stress, allergens, and toxins, as well as mercury, inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, cortisol and homocysteine, leads to cell death.

Our thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, and traumas all affect the brain and its inner connections, and thus our health. Literally, rigid beliefs mean a rigid brain – a sick brain – one without plasticity, the ability to change, learn new things, and implement new behaviors. Resiliency or adaptability to change, on the other hand, leads to good health. Loss of control and meaning, lack of positive social relationships and supports, personality dispositions and stress all contribute. In sum, our perception of who we are and what our place is in life – our sense of the aim and meaning of existence – is essential to our well-being.

How does this play out on the physiological level? Danger in the world triggers our hypothalamus to turn on our stress response via the Sympathetic Nervous System, prepping us to fight, flee, or freeze. Our adrenal glands pump out cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Normally, this response turns off rapidly, after the danger has left, but the triggers for this response are everywhere in modern times: from pollution, stress in the workplace and at home, GMOs, refined carbs, to automatic negative thoughts and simply getting offended. Even the toxins in food trigger our stress response. We are chronically stressed, and not designed to handle it. Our bodies wear down, we experience burnout, and fry our hippocampus. The list of results is a long one: inflammation, low acetylcholine, depression and anxiety, increased excitotoxicity and NMDA activation, low serotonin, low BDNF, low growth hormone, poor sleep, decreased social interactions and sex function, insulin resistance and obesity, thyroid dysfunction, mitochondrial damage, bad cholesterol, blood clots, loss of muscle, etc.

But while we cannot control the “on” switch, we can control the “off” switch (our Parasympathetic Nervous System), which is responsible for relaxation and regulation. The Parasympathetic Nervous System controls blood pressure and electrolyte balance, controls metabolism and metabolic rate, regulates body temperature, controls our reproductive and sleep cycles, and regulates our stress response by coordinating our autonomic activity. The solution? Stimulating the vagus nerve (part of the Parasympathetic Nervous System) controls relaxation, sending out acetylcholine to reduce inflammation, improving neurogenesis, increasing BDNF and the regeneration of cells. There are several ways to stimulate it: expensive vagal nerve “pacemakers”, a splash of cold water on the face, but the easiest by far is through controlled breathing, such as practiced using Éiriú Eolas.

While vagal nerve stimulation may be the most effective way to relax, there are other methods with different benefits. Sauna therapy helps with detoxification while magnesium baths are a calm and pleasing way of dealing with magnesium deficiency. Then there’s yoga, meditation, massage, dance, journaling, music, art, and taking a nice nature walk.

Dr. Hyman presents a lot of information on the science, biology, supplements and solutions to the imbalances causing disease in the book, so if you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, that’s okay. He gives a fairly simple six-week plan designed to help you increase your focus, attention, alertness, memory, energy, sleep, stabilize your mood, and deal with pains and weight problems. It all boils down to four areas of life that need some change: diet, supplementation, lifestyle, and “green living”.

Hyman recommends eating fresh, organic foods, including lots of fiber, omega-3’s and phytonutrients. In his words, the food you eat should be “real, clean, organic, and local”. The best way to start the day is with a big breakfast, high in protein and animal fats. Bacon, sausages, buckwheat pancakes, and sweet potatoes make a delicious breakfast that’ll give your body and brain the energy they need for the day. But as for foods to avoid: high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, flours, sweeteners, alcohols, trans fats and hydrogenated oils, processed and packaged foods, big fish, caffeine, alcohol. Then there are the common allergens: gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, yeast, peanuts, nightshades, and citrus. The elimination diet he describes allows you to test foods, so you can figure out which ones may be causing problems you aren’t even aware of. As for supplements, the most important ones to take are a high quality multivitamin, magnesium (citrate, malate, or taurate are well-absorbed), D3, omega-3, B vitamins, and probiotics.

We’ve already covered relaxation and sleep. Hyman recommends avoiding any stimulation before going to bed (i.e., no email or big meals) and aiming to fall asleep between 10 and 11 p.m. He also recommends exercises, for your body and your brain (e.g., crosswords, math, problem solving, etc.). Physical exercise not only strengthens the cardiovascular system, it lowers stress and inflammation, improves mood, and boosts neuroplasticity and BDNF. It can also help balance hormones, and prevent dementia and cancer.

For clean and green living: drink plenty filtered or distilled water (tap water is largely contaminated with microbes, pesticides, plastics, metals, chloride and fluoride. Also, limit or eliminate exposure to sources of electromagnetic radiations, like cell phones and WiFi, and chemicals in plastics, petrochemicals, fluorescent light bulbs, and household toxins.

Dr. Hyman’s approach to health can be summed up in just a few words: be aware of what you put into your body. When we know what we are ingesting into our bodies and minds, and the possible ill effects they can cause, we can take steps to better control what comes in and what goes out. We are a product of nature, and unfortunately for us all, humanity is currently eating entirely unnatural foods, breathing air laced with poisons, and leading a lifestyle that is anything but in tune with nature. Luckily, despite the obstacles, change is possible. Pain and disease are not inevitable results of age. The more steps we take to eat whole, healthy foods and detoxify our body and minds from the toxins of so-called “modern” life, the healthier we will be in body, mind and spirit. Whatever plan nature has for humanity, you can bet we will not fulfill it as long as we continue to poison ourselves and each other.


The Living Force
There is something in Dr. Hyman's recommendations that I think is 'off', namely the "eat lots of fiber" advice. It looks now like that advice may have been slowly killing me, in spite of all the other good advice. I mention it because you mentioned it in your review. Of all of his recommendations that I have had to alter, that one was the worst. It is standard medical advice, but when someone eats lots of fiber (i.e. approaching the RDA) for 10-20 years later in life it can produce serious GI disease. Fortunately, eating more fiber is something people know they "should do" but often don't do. They are the lucky ones.

I started out reading Ultramind Solution but decided to try the Ultrasimple Diet instead because it was, like the title says, simple. The USD helped to some degree, but I continued to have significant problems. It appears now that excess fiber was the main culprit, although it is too soon to say for sure. So I am a bit shaken up, and disappointed (but not surprised) that he missed something so basic.

The Utramind Solution contains a lot of useful information, but seems to steer people in the direction of spending hundreds of dollars a month on supplements which, conveniently, he sells at his online store. I am very skeptical of the value of most of these supplements when they are taken blindly based upon advice found in a book, although I do take a few basic ones myself.

Mr. Premise

The Living Force
Megan said:
The Utramind Solution contains a lot of useful information, but seems to steer people in the direction of spending hundreds of dollars a month on supplements which, conveniently, he sells at his online store. I am very skeptical of the value of most of these supplements when they are taken blindly based upon advice found in a book, although I do take a few basic ones myself.

FWIW, I based my supplement regime on Hyman's book as well as Sherry Rogers' Detoxify or Die and the High Blood Pressure Hoax, and I felt a great improvement in health and stamina as a result. It's hard to tell when one is taking some that aren't needed, and you might need them on Tuesday but be fine on Friday, for example, but usually they don't cause harm except in wasted money. So it's not just reading it in a book, it was reading it in several books and thinking about the arguments they put forth and matching it up with one's own personal health risks based on family history and current health status.

I have been looking at cutting some back. Now that I am eating meat, I probably don't need the extra B-100 on top of the multivitamins and the meat, for example. But there are good reasons to take Folic Acid (and it's one of the cheaper ones).


The Living Force
Yes, I found the recommendations in Detoxify or Die very helpful, and less expensive. I am taking a modified "detox cocktail" consisting of vitamin C, NAC, and ALA. I also take fish oil, a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement, and plenty of magnesium. I have used Dr. Hyman's recommendations, combined with a healthy amount of skepticism and lots of searching here in the forum, to get an idea of what else to try.

The most dramatic change for me, though, has come just this last week from reducing fiber intake. That was the main problem. I was already following a "healthy diet" before the USD, but I was under the mistaken impression that fiber was "healthy." It has been quite a lesson.


Jedi Council Member
Thanx Approaching Infinity for this thread.

Is there another name for Buckwheat or Buckwheat Flour? It does not seem to be available in my region.

Also I would like to read/research more on GABA, any suggestions would be appreciated.

As for supplements, I had my bloodwork done about 7 months ago and everything was within range. With the following a little high; MCV - 99.6 (range 80-97), MCH- 34.1 (range 27-32), Magnesium-serum 1.07 (range .65 - 1.05), HDL Cholesterol - 1.02 (target > 1.29), Ferritin 349 (range 27-220) and Keytone - trace.

I currently take vitamin D3 and K2, and super halibut liver oil. I dont think I need to take B12 as my bloodwork said my B12 is 362 with a target of >131.

I think I have read most of the suggested threads for health and diet, but it has been awhile. I plan to re-visit these threads again. Especially the ones on GABA.

Megan said:
There is something in Dr. Hyman's recommendations that I think is 'off', namely the "eat lots of fiber" advice.

From what I have read of SOTT articles, I would have to agree with Megan here.... am I wrong?

My diet is very simple...Yam's, onion's, garlic, ginger, meat, eggs, mint tea(mostly, but other herbal teas too), 2 cups of black coffee(with Xylitol) every morning, apples, carrots occasionally, rice noodles occasionally, I make a home made (canned)tomato sauce, gluten/wheat/yeast free sunflower/rye bread, canned salmon, oatmeal(occasionally, which I thought was ok, but this article indicates that it is not), butter, olive oil, Xylitol, buckwheat/wildflower honey for sweetener, Raspberry jam(with sugar not glucose/fructose). I also take some Xylitol candy and Harvest mix for snacks. The harvest mix is on occasion and is not that great. I am researching to find a dried fruit nut mix that is better, ie. without a label that says; 'may contain trace amounts of milk, other soya ingredients and wheat'.

So another question I have is... can you reccommend some reading/research on a good substitute for Oatmeal. Something that can be a good but quick meal to make.

I have been researching organic shopping solutions in my region.... basically it is not good around here, I am planning a trip to a Mennonite town to stock up on some stuff. But I am vigilant and read all labels and discern for myself.

When I am 'on the road' so to speak, I do fall off the wagon, or when I am a guest at someones home it is hard to stick to this but does not happen regularly. At most maybe 3 times a month.

I dont watch TV, I put my microwave in the garage, I only have a cel phone but keep it away from me as much as possible and use it as little as possible. I also RO and PiMag my water, which is supposed to be a hi infra red and magnetic water filter.

Also I smoke tobacco I buy from the local Native First Nations Reserve(which is really a concentration camp, but that is off topic). This tobacco has the least amount of additives that I can find. Maybe even no additives. But I could be wrong.

I sleep well, do the EE and walk my dogs regularly. Also I dont take any drugs, not even an aspirin. And my alcohol consumption is tiny, ie. social visits occasionally.

One thing is that it appears that the 'system' makes following a good diet regimen very difficult, expensive with extra travel. I think it is worth it. But it is such a hassle at times. On a limited budget it can bug me a times... but I say "what is good health worth?" That usually ends that frustration.

For example, bread is about 1-3 dollars a loaf. Wheat/gluten/yeast free bread is 7-10 dollars for the same amount. Brown sugar is about 3 dollars for 2 kilos(refined sugar is even less), regular pasteurized honey is about 2-3 dollars per half kilo. Xylitol is 10 dollars for half a kilo and unpasteurized Buckwheat/wildflower honey is 15 dollars for half a kilo.

One last thing. I am interested in detoxing, but do not want to rush into anything. Any reading/research material or advice would be appreciated.

Thanx again for the article....Harold :)


The Living Force
Harold said:
...From what I have read of SOTT articles, I would have to agree with Megan here.... am I wrong?
I don't even know myself, but I have been "doing the experiment" and feeling much better since I started reducing fiber.

I have had buckwheat crepes twice in the last two weeks. I would think that, in the absense of all other fiber-dense foods, a little buckwheat now and then wouldn't cause a lot of trouble but I haven't done that experiment yet. I am starting it now. It's the same procedure as with eliminating any other food and then reintroducing it after a time.

I am just now reaching the point of eliminating all of the high-fiber foods that are OK with USD & UMS, with buckwheat being one of the last to go. The severe constipation that I feared has not materialized, and things are going as I would expect if the information in Fiber Menace were essentially correct. The main I am still having is that I don't quite prepare 100% of my own food and when I eat anything else I often have problems starting 2-3 days later. It doesn't take much.

I am not eliminating all fiber (contrary to the advice in Fiber Menace). I am limiting it to the moderate amount that comes along naturally in cooked vegetables and sea vegetables, and likely is needed in order to digest them properly. For now I am avoiding plant foods that require grinding or other processing before they can be eaten, and other high-fiber items such as hemp protein with added fiber (it's available without that) and flax or chia seeds -- UltraShake ingredients. I have largely eliminated the shakes, for that matter.

I had problems with increased gas and bloating during the USD when I combined large fiber intake with large amounts of probiotics. That problem went away when I reduced fiber intake, and it makes sense that it would.

UMS and USD have real value, especially USD. I encourage everyone to do the modified USD. I just wouldn't start either one of them as they are presented in the books, without modifications, knowing what I know now. And the biggest issues I have had with them, personally, are too much fiber and rice sensitivity.


Jedi Council Member
Megan said:
-- UltraShake ingredients. I have largely eliminated the shakes, for that matter.

I forgot about them.... I gonna look them up and check if the forum still recommends them... thanx for that, I need some quick meal ideas Megan. :)


The Living Force
Harold said:
Megan said:
-- UltraShake ingredients. I have largely eliminated the shakes, for that matter.

I forgot about them.... I gonna look them up and check if the forum still recommends them... thanx for that, I need some quick meal ideas Megan. :)
The Ultrashakes worked very well for me when I was doing the USD, once I realized that I don't tolerate flaxseed at all. I don't know now if it is because of a food allergy or if it is a side effect of the fiber, but the reaction was so nasty that I am not going to go back and try it again.

Whether to continue consuming them regularly afterward (or as a part of UMS) is another matter. For now, I am still having 1-3 shakes a week, but eliminating the extra fiber from seeds and fiber-fortified protein powder. My ingredients are down to organic berries, an organic banana, filtered water, fiber-free hemp protein powder, hemp oil, and D-ribose. This is essentially the same as what is posted on the EE forum for USD, with hemp entirely substituted for flax. I was adding chia seed, but that is very high in fiber too.

I am substituting simple meat & vegetable meals for the shakes on the other days. It's harder to find a substitute on the days that I commute to work (currently 3 days a week most weeks). I have recently tried cooking something for lunch while making breakfast, but doing that adds to morning stress and rush and I am still looking for a better solution to the problem. Besides, I like the shakes and, if anything, they taste better without the extra fiber. Maybe three a week is fine if they taste good and reduce stress and don't contain anything that you know will cause you trouble. As I think I mentioned earlier, UMS seemed to require more time for meal preparation than I was ready to commit to.

I don't know if there is a general recommendation for the forum. If you are having GI problems, I personally think it would be better to try something different than to do nothing. But then responding promptly when I notice or suspect a health issue seems to be a recurring theme in my personal "lesson plan." I have had two brushes with death in the last four years and I am trying to respond more quickly this time.


Jedi Council Member
Megan said:
I have had two brushes with death in the last four years and I am trying to respond more quickly this time.
glad yer still here...thanx for sharing


FOTCM Member
Harold said:
Is there another name for Buckwheat or Buckwheat Flour? It does not seem to be available in my region.

It certainly is available. You can look for Bobs Red Mill at the grocery store (in the gluten free section - which all stores have now), or if you have organic specific stores in your area they will have different brands available. Even Bulk Barn has it but its not a guarantee that there isnt cross contamination.


Jedi Council Member
DanielS said:
Harold said:
Is there another name for Buckwheat or Buckwheat Flour? It does not seem to be available in my region.

It certainly is available. You can look for Bobs Red Mill at the grocery store (in the gluten free section - which all stores have now), or if you have organic specific stores in your area they will have different brands available. Even Bulk Barn has it but its not a guarantee that there isnt cross contamination.

Thanx Daniel,

my bulk barn here dosnt have it, but I'll look again. They quinoa, is that the same thing? I dont think so. That was the first place I checked. But thanx for the brand name. Out here, in Mississauga, there are no bakeries that have it. I'll try other grocery stores, the ones I've looked into arnt carrying it yet. I thought it would be easy to find.


FOTCM Member
Harold said:
DanielS said:
Harold said:
Is there another name for Buckwheat or Buckwheat Flour? It does not seem to be available in my region.

It certainly is available. You can look for Bobs Red Mill at the grocery store (in the gluten free section - which all stores have now), or if you have organic specific stores in your area they will have different brands available. Even Bulk Barn has it but its not a guarantee that there isnt cross contamination.

Thanx Daniel,

my bulk barn here dosnt have it, but I'll look again. They quinoa, is that the same thing? I dont think so. That was the first place I checked. But thanx for the brand name. Out here, in Mississauga, there are no bakeries that have it. I'll try other grocery stores, the ones I've looked into arnt carrying it yet. I thought it would be easy to find.

Quinoa flour, if milled in a place that hasn't milled wheat products, is gluten free, as is amaranth. They will say gluten free on the label. Bob's Red Mill now carries gluten free quinoa flour. It is not the same thing as buckwheat flour, though. Buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth are all gluten-free flours.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Careful with the Bob's Red Mill buckwheat flour. It is produced along with wheat products, so it's not gluten free. It's weird because their groats, quinoa grain/flour, and amaranth grain/flour all have the gluten free symbol but not the buckwheat flour.

The third picture on this page shows the contamination at the bottom right. FWIW


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I'm sure many of you have received the latest news letter by Mark Hyman, but for those who haven't, it contains good basic information on infrared saunas. I found the part particularly interesting where he talks about the latest development in the infrared technology - something called full-spectrum infrared. Don't know if this is just a market ploy, but maybe it's worth checking out.

In an ageless society, we will do whatever it takes to look and feel younger. It is no secret that anti-aging essentials include a healthy diet, exercise and some good R&R. But did you know there is a tool that can enhance any anti-aging program to yield better results? A tool that can help you lose weight, lower blood pressure, enhance detoxification, and relieve pain. New science is proving that a simple, ancient method of cleansing the body has widespread positive effects on health. I'm talking about infrared heat therapy--specifically, infrared saunas.

Infrared heat therapy is a significantly underutilized treatment in medicine. However, with the growing movement to find more self-directed, more natural, less invasive ways to overcome health problems and lose weight, it's becoming more popular among the American public. And that's a good thing! As we will see in a moment, the science bears out the use of infrared heat as a treatment modality for a wide variety of health conditions.

Infrared saunas present an interesting and powerful opportunity for people to take advantage of the latest advances in heat therapy. These saunas, which can be installed in your home, use infrared light instead of conventional heat to bring up your body temperature. The difference is important because infrared saunas can increase your core body temperature by 2-3 degrees-- enough to improve the health results you achieve as compared to conventional saunas. Most infrared saunas on the market produce only far infrared. However, a new development in the field is full-spectrum infrared. Sauna manufacturer, Sunlighten, has discovered a way to produce all wavelengths of the infrared spectrum--far (FIR), mid (MIR) and near (NIR). This is a significant development because each IR wavelength provides unique health benefits.

Not only does infrared therapy enhance the key essentials I mentioned previously, but it is also an effective means of prevention. Over the last decade science has finally caught up with what ancient societies have realized for millennia regarding the use of infrared heat therapy, and the evidence that's surfacing about the benefits of regular use of infrared saunas is impressive.

Infrared saunas help you lose weight. When it comes to burning calories with infrared heat, Sunlighten saunas were clinically shown to dramatically aid in weight loss. Results from a 2009 study indicated that Sunlighten saunas are beneficial for lowering weight and waist circumference in just a 3-month period. And for those who are sedentary due to medical conditions such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular or respiratory problems, results were even more profound.(i)

Infrared saunas enhance detoxification. We live in a sea of toxins as you know. Luckily there are steps we can take to more effectively remove these toxins, and the use of IR saunas is one powerful method for doing so. The Environmental Protection Agency has shown that sauna therapy increases excretion of heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium) and fat-soluble chemicals like PCBs, PBBs, and HCBs. In fact, toxins stored in fat can prevent you from effectively losing weight. I've seen this time and again in my practice: People try everything to lose weight and get healthy, but it isn't until they detoxify their bodies that they can truly heal.

Infrared saunas reduce blood pressure. Several studies have shown that IR sauna therapy lowers blood pressure significantly. In one study done by the University of Missouri, Kansas City subjects were randomly assigned to either a Solocarbon infrared sauna or a conventional sauna. Systolic blood pressure decreased from an average of 130.5 to 124 in those that underwent IR sauna treatment. Those who were treated in a conventional sauna showed no statistical improvement in blood pressure.(ii)

Infrared saunas reduce complications and improve cardiac performance in heart disease patients. In addition to lowering blood pressure, IR saunas also improve heart rate variability (HRV)-one of the key indicators of heart health. Normally, there is a subtle variability between heartbeats. When there is more variability in the beat-to-beat rhythm, your heart and nervous system are healthier. The least healthy heart rhythm has the least variability-a flat line. However, when the autonomic nervous system is in chronic stress mode, the heartbeat becomes less variable. Infrared saunas relax the body and mind, reduce autonomic nervous stimulation, and thus improve HRV. There is an IR sauna on the market, the mPulse Series from Sunlighten, with built in biofeedback capabilities for monitoring heart rate during a sauna session.

Infrared saunas support cell health, muscle recovery & immunity. Improved HRV helps cleanse the circulatory system and more fully oxygenate the body's cells which will support cell health, muscle recovery and the immune system. Several studies have shown that NIR produced from LEDs (like those found in Sunlighten's technology) stimulate white blood cell production and collagen growth by increasing energy at the cellular level. A NASA study showed NIR delivered by LEDs deep into body tissue, can quadruple cell health and tissue growth.(iii) Another study done at the Medical College of Wisconsin demonstrated that LED-produced NIR helps promote cell health and regeneration.(iv) Lastly, a study from The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology concluded that LED NIR restores enzyme activity and reduces cell death by half.(iv)

Infrared saunas improve brain function. As I point out in The UltraMind Solution, the health and resilience of your brain function are directly related to the complexity and variability of your heart rate. What is good for your heart is good for you brain. And since IR saunas increase the variability and health of your nervous system, that means they are a great way to improve brain function. Interestingly, one study has also shown that IR saunas can actually improve the function of neurons that have been damaged by toxins.v This is to say nothing of the relaxing effects noted above, the improvement sauna has on autonomic nervous function, and the overall increased sense of peace and well-being you experience when regularly taking saunas.

In addition to the benefits above, infrared saunas have also been shown to help with relaxation, reduce joint pain, improve your skin, and more. It's a treatment I highly recommend and one I prescribe to patients often. I suggest you consider regular sauna therapy as well.

It is not hard to find a day spa that offers infrared sauna sessions. However, to get the maximum benefits received with regular use, I recommend adding an infrared sauna to your home. This is an easy addition as most come in pre-fabricated kits that are ready to assemble and plug in, have low energy consumption and are virtually maintenance free. I recommend Sunlighten saunas. They are high-quality, full spectrum infrared saunas and their customer service team specializes in helping you locate the best sauna for your needs. Sunlighten has agreed to offer my readers a sauna discount! Contact them at 877-292-0020 and mention promo code HYMAN.

Whether you are overweight, suffering from chronic illness, burdened by constant stress, or you simply want to optimize your body and protect your health for the long term, infrared saunas are an excellent way to do it.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD


(i) Dr. Richard Beever BSc, MD, CCFP. Do Far-Infrared Saunas have Measurable Health Benefits? A Sequential Longitudinal Interrupted Time Series Design Study. 2009. Dr. Richard Beever BSc, MD, CCFP. Do Far-Infrared Saunas have Cardiovascular Benefits in People with Type 2 Diabetes? Canadian Journal of Diabetes 2010; 34 (2) :113-118.

(ii) Edwards, B., Kort, H., and John Foxworthy. A study of the healthy benefits of far-infared sauna therapy. University of Missouri, Kansas City.

(iii) Harry T. Whelan, Ellen V. Buchmann, Noel T. Whelan, Scott G. Turner, Vita Cevenini, Helen Stinson, Ron Ignatius, Todd Martin, Joan Cwiklinski, Glenn A. Meyer, Brian Hodgson Lisa Gould, Mary Kane, Gina Chen , James Caviness. NASA Light Emitting Diode Medical Applications From Deep Space to Deep Sea. CP552, Space Technology and Applications International Forum-2001, edited by M. S. El-Genk. Copyright 2001 American Institute of Physics 1-56396-980-7/01.

(iv) Margaret T.T.Wong-Riley, Huan Ling Liang, Janis T. Eells, Britton Chance, Michele M. Henry, Ellen Buchmann, Mary Kane, and Harry T. Whelan. Photobiomodulation Directly Benefits Primary Neurons Functionally Inactivated by Toxins: Role of Cytochrome C Oxidase. JBC Papers in Press. Published on November 22, 2004 as Manuscript M409650200. Copyright 2004 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

(v) Wong-Riley, M.T., Liang H.L., Eells J.T. et al. 2005. Photobiomodulation directly benefits primary neurons functionally inactivated by toxins: Role of cytochrome c oxidase. J Biol Chem. 280(6):4761-71.

© 2010 Dr.Hyman. All rights reserved. | Privacy & Disclaimer
45 Walker Street
Lenox, MA 01240
Top Bottom