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Join us as we discuss the depths of the gut microbiome with chiropractic and international expert in digestive health and detoxification, Dr. Tom Bayne. In this episode, Dr. Bayne shares a wealth of uncommon knowledge about the microbiome and breaks down key research on the use of spore-based probiotics to improve chronic illness.
As the president of Microbiome Labs, Dr. Bayne travels around the world to educate other healthcare practitioners on the connection between the gut microbiome and many chronic diseases. Dr. Bayne's comprehensive understanding of supplement manufacturing and extensive clinical experience have given him a unique ability to innovate integrative solutions for digestive and immune health. In his clinic, Dr. Bayne has spent over 24 years helping his patients optimize their digestive health, improve autoimmune conditions, and enhance detoxification. To learn more about Dr. Bayne click here.
Hello and welcome to The Better Biome Podcast, where we explore the universe within. There is a complex and mysterious community of microorganisms that lives in, on and around us, that has an impact on every part of our health.
These communities are called you biomes, and we're here to explore all the different biomes to help you and your family be the healthiest you can be. We're your hosts, Dr. Nicole Beurkens
And on today's show, we're talking with Dr. Tom Bayne about his experience with using innovative supplement formulas to improve gut health and address the needs of patients in his practice. Dr. Tom Bayne is a chiropractic physical and public speaker dedicated to understanding and improving the gut microbiome. As the president of Microbiome Labs, Dr. Bayne travels around the world to educate other healthcare practitioners on the connection between the gut microbiome and many chronic diseases. Dr. Bayne's comprehensive understanding of supplement manufacturing and extensive clinical experience have given him a unique ability to innovate integrative solutions for digestive and immune health. In his clinic, Dr. Bayne has spent over 24 years helping his patients optimize their digestive health, improve autoimmune conditions and enhance detoxification. Such a pleasure to have you with us today. Welcome to the show!
Thank you for having me. It's good to be here.
So you've got this really interesting career worth of experience of working with patients, working in a clinical setting, working in research and supplement formulation. I'd love to have us start by just share with us how this evolved for you, where did you start? How has that journey evolved?
So I'm trained as a chiropractor. I moved to Chicago in 1991 to go to chiropractor school and I met a girl and so she was from Belgium, had grown up with her dad as a chiropractor and lived the life of natural medicine. So she was in chiropractic school to become a functional medicine practitioner. It really wasn't called that back then. So she was in there to learn natural medicine. I had gone with the idea of being more of a sports medicine doctor. That's what kind of led me to chiropractic. But through spending time with her and getting an understanding of what her family was doing, her brother was a chiropractor also, he was doing a lot of natural medicine. So it kind of gave me this whole new look on medicine in general, and this opportunity to kind of be a GP, to be able to treat whatever comes through the door through the use of diet, lifestyle modification and food supplements. So after we graduated from chiropractic school, we moved to Belgium because her dad had started a supplement company. We went there and took over his practices, worked clinically in Belgium in his two practices, and we helped him with his business.
I got involved in every aspect of the business. I did product development, I did product research. I lectured. Back then it was Great Smokies, so we distributed the Great Smokies test then. So we were integrating the functional testing for the physicians, putting together treatment plans using dietary and supplements to treat the test results. So we eventually sold that company to Metagenics. So Metagenics Europe is my father-in-law's old company, the company my wife and I helped him run for those 4 years that we lived in Belgium. Very unique opportunity. Belgium, Europe is a different place. Natural medicine has a niche. It's accepted. Not everybody does it but if you want a doctor who uses natural medicine, it's widely available to you there. So that was unique. We're talking mid 90's, late 90's. To be exposed to that, to be exposed to a family practitioner who is going to treat my bronchitis with homeopathy was totally new to me. I had no concept of that. So at that time there were a lot more opportunities to interact with medical doctors. I had the opportunity to teach and travel around Europe with some of the leading European and American physicians. I ran Functional Medicine Europe for the first 4 years of its existence. So we had Jeffrey Bland and all of his team over there teaching the physicians about functional medicine.
So, a very unique background there. After the company sold to Metagenics, my wife and I moved back to the US with the idea that we were just going to have a family practice in the suburbs of Chicago. but I couldn't stay away from it. I really enjoyed the ability to create new products, to be able to fill a void in the marketplace where physicians were seeing problems regularly, but didn't have the tools to fix it. That was very interesting to me and more of what I felt like my passion was, really. I still see patients, I love doing that. But the business side of it presented with unique challenges that, for my mind, was more of what I felt comfortable doing. So when I got back to the US, I started a family practice. In the midwest, not a lot of people talk about what's going on with them. So I wasn't getting a lot of referrals. I was helping people, but I wasn't getting a lot of referrals, except from one particular group of people. The Crohn's, Colitis, Irritable Bowel group of people, they seemed to know everybody that has these conditions, and they talk. So what is happening is here I am 3, 4, 5 months into my practice, and every new patient that's coming in is a Crohn's, Colitis, Irritable Bowel patient.
I did not dream of this. This was not my goal to be a gut-centric physician. But what I realized quickly was that there were a lot of people coming in with primary gut problems. But then the rest of my practice, people with skin conditions, people with autoimmune diseases, people with headaches lots of different conditions, and as I do my workup, I'd be like, "Oh, it's your digestive tract. It's one component or multiple components of your digestive tract." So I realized, if I don't get good at this, I am going to probably be selling real estate in a few years. So I just dove into gut health, and I used every product that was out there and spent a lot of time doing my own version of trial and error, my own kind of research. So I had used every product that was out there and using my own methods of understanding how things were working and laboratory tests and things like that. I became very good at treating the different components of the digestive tract. Obviously one of the biggest components, the microbiome, back then, I was struggling to find something that I felt like in my mind, that if I do these things with these products, I am going to modify the microbiome. I am going to enhance the growth of beneficials and I'm going to suppress the growth of pathogens. I knew that in my mind. I knew what I wanted to do. I had the research that showed that. It's just that the tools I was using, spores weren't doing it. I've used every probiotic that there was.
Spores first came on my radar, probably around 1999/2000. There were some products that were single spores. The story made sense to me, but then when I used the products, I was finding similar things that I was seeing with typical lactobifidal products. It worked for a little while on some people, then it would stop working, it would work on one person with the condition and then not on another person with the same condition. The spore thing was interesting to me, but again, the inability to find one that was effective caused me to, at the time.... just say, I'm going to use this probiotic yeast, I'm going to use this Saccharomyces Boulardii because I am seeing some good benefits with this for Diarrhea and things like that. So it must be doing something in the microbiome. And I was combining it with some products I was importing from Japan that were actually probiotic waste products. Just the ferment. Something that would change the pH and just shift a little bit of the microbiome, so hopefully feed the commensals so that they could grow. So here I am, I am by my patients, by the people in my community, I'm the gut guy, and I am totally frustrated with every probiotic and every gut-cleansing formula that's out there.
And I have to believe that you were probably doing more for these people than most, just by your understanding that the gut was even something that needed to be addressed, that the microbiome needed to be addressed, right? I mean the fact that you did all this training and work in Europe, you've been pretty ahead of the curve, compared to a lot of practitioners that people are seeing here in the States. Most of them, when they show up with something non gut-related, practitioners, even then, weren't saying, "Oh, well I think we really need to look at the gut."
I think my knowledge was there, but the tools were not. It was a frustrating thing. I felt like I knew exactly what I needed to with this person, and I'd go through the process but I wasn't getting the results. The other thing, the other flip side of that is that what you put out is what comes back to you, right? So here I am and I've got this knowledge base, and I'm very unique in the marketplace and in the type of people I can help. I don't get the simple "I've got a little acid reflux". I'm getting three autoimmune diseases and all of these crazy things. I'm getting all the things that haven't been fixed by the other people in the community. So the quality of the patient was much more challenging than what a lot of other people were seeing. So about seven years ago, the idea of a multi-spore blend product, and an understanding of why the stability of this product was different and these spores were different compared to spores I've used in the past, that was all new science to me, and I was able to devour that science and just be like, "This! Now it's starting to make sense!"
Don't tell me I'm going to eat the bacteria and it's going to go live in my gut. Because there is a study that showed that 10 people with IBS, that they symptoms improved after they took this lactobifidal-based probiotic Okay, I'm buying. But the why? How did it work? The bridge that they built to explain why that probiotic worked that's not based on any science. And that's not how the product works, and it's very limited in what it really can do because it's a dead bug passing through your digestive tract.
Let's talk about that for a minute, because you are really summarizing what has been the main modality that people had used for trying to influence the gut microbiome through supplementation, which is more of we can call the the traditional probiotic formulas or things like that. So just for the listeners, let's just go a little more in-depth with that. What is the idea behind how those you were saying you saw the limitations, people would get better, a little bit. I want to contrast that by getting more into what you're talking about with the spores because I think that's a really new concept for people.
Well, and keep in mind, we have to elaborate on many of the products that are deemed to be high quality are required to be refrigerated and all of that, right? So why are they telling us to refrigerate these products? Why do you have to keep them in cold places? What is the premise behind how they are working?
If it's so unstable that it needs to be kept refrigerated, how the heck does it survive through your GI tract? And then to get to the deep recesses of your digestive tract and then perform functions, it doesn't make any sense. I think the problem is that a lot of people in the functional medicine world, physicians, and a lot of the consumers we've been given marketing information instead of science and we've accepted this fact. I go to conferences, 40-50 conferences a year, and I talk to doctors. And I talk to smart doctors. Doctors that have done more studies than I have done, and they just accept that this is fact, oh well, you eat the bug and it goes and lives in your digestive tract no, it doesn't. That's not how it works. They are metabolic response modifiers. They're dead bacteria that pass through your digestive tract. If you get a very specific strain, it may be able to trigger an immune reaction that repairs patches, and that might help resolve a symptom. It's not changing your microbiome.
And ultimately, that was the key. I mean I was smart enough to know 20 years ago: If you can change the microbiome, there's a whole world of people you can impact. Right? And I thought, every time I get a new probiotic product, I thought I was changing the microbiome. But that was the problem, you really weren't. You were using, basically the lactobifidal-based probiotics, it's kind of like using a drug. You're treating a symptom. It may help with that symptom. The minute you stop, the symptom comes right back. You haven't resolved the problem.
That's a super-important point, because I know that there are a lot of people listening right now who are just taking a moment and going "Whoa, wait. what? I've been taking these probiotics for months, years", whether they're going into a mass-market store and buying brand name lactobacillus products off the shelf or their physician or other healthcare practitioner has been recommending them, there are a lot of people out there thinking I'm actually changing my gut microbiome in a permanent, healthy direction by taking these. So what you're saying is that may not actually be the case.
Well, when I started working with the spores, like very quickly, I saw what it meant to change the microbiome. There was like I'm doing the same thing that I've done all along. I know what's wrong with this person, I have to change the microbiome, I'm going to use this tool to do it. The only thing was that finally, it was happening. Finally, we started seeing changes. I used, I lovingly say this, my patients would back me on this, but my practice is my laboratory, and I experimented on my patients. So when I got 50 bottles of stable multi-spore blend, I said, well I'm just going to take my 50 toughest patients. I've got this gut-centric practice, I'll take my 50 hardest patients. Let me see what happens. I was shocked. People who were coming in with relapses of IBS, that I felt like I did a pretty good job, I controlled their IBS in three weeks with about $400 worth of products. Instead, I controlled in a matter of hours in some cases, but with many of them within days for $50 a month.
So it wasn't just improving the outcomes, but it was doing it at a much more efficient, much quicker way. So the first 50, those people were IBS-based people, a couple of Crohn's, Colitis patients, but tried to keep it to just the gas and bloated people. Saw phenomenal results. So the next 150 people opened it up. Looked at Inflammatory Bowel Disease, looked at patients who were presenting with a digestive issue, but that was just one of the many things that they had going on. And then something really interesting started happening. All of a sudden, the rheumatoid arthritis patients were saying "Is it possible my joints don't hurt as much?" or "Hey, these inflammatory markers that my doctor's been doing for 10 years, that never moved, all of a sudden they moved! He asked me what I'm doing differently! This is the only thing I'm doing differently."
So that's when we really took a step back and said, "Wait a minute." Okay, even as smart as I like to think I am, I don't think I really understood how much could change if you really got the microbiome to change. If you took somebody who has never had a healthy microbiome and suddenly you've reconditioned that to a point where it's now healthy man, a whole slew of things changes. Everything changes in those patients. Personality, emotions, their skin texture, how they feel, their energy everything changes. And so, I became the gut guy out of pure necessity. That's all it was. But it was a brilliant thing. I can't give myself any credit for it, I didn't plan it, but really, now you're starting to see that the whole community of functional medicine is starting to shift over and say "We need to be able to shift the microbiome.
Yeah. Let's talk a little bit about what these spores are. So a lot of our audience probably has never heard of this before. So where does a spore come from, what makes it a spore, what makes it fundamentally different from your conventional probiotics, the lactobifidal stuff you talked about?
There are certain types of bacteria that have, as a part of their life cycle, the ability to form a spore. So when they are in an environment that's not hospitable to them, they dehydrate themselves, form this tough protein outer coat, and they can sit in this dormant state, if you will, until it's nice and ready for them to come back out and to be an active bacteria. So there are many bacteria that are like that, but there are a few specific bacillus strains that are human gut commensals. So they're in our environment, they're ubiquitous in our environment, they're everywhere. So as the human race developed, we developed at the same time with these bugs in our environment. We had to interact with them. Throughout the centuries, we have developed our immune systems have developed in the presence of these environmental organisms, but at the same time, for the most part, in the environment, they're not very active. They're in that dormant state for the most part, once they get inside your digestive tract, they become probiotics. That tough outer coat allows them to survive through the stomach acid, allows them to get into the small intestines. And then, rather than seeding the bowel with good bacteria, what these guys are doing is they're reconditioning. So they're seeking our pathogens and they're getting rid of them. They have the ability to produce 25 different antibiotics in order to get rid of a particular pathogenic bacterial infection.
For a lot of people with these issues, they've got all of these really pathogenic bad guys in their system.
But it's a balance though, and too many physicians take the approach of the bad has to go and the good has to stay. We're just seeing that that's just not how it is. That some of the things that are "bad" are really not bad, as long as you keep them low. Keep them in a low concentration: No problem. Allow them to overgrow: Big problem. So the establishment is taking the approach of kill, kill, kill, we've got to kill it. And that's whether you're a pediatrician gastroenterologist or a functional medicine practitioner whatever, the approach is antimicrobial, anti-candida, we've got to get rid of the pathogen. And that's not the key. They key is: Can you beat the pathogens down so that the lower levels obviously some pathogens need to completely go, but by and large, beat them down and then create an environment that's conducive for the bacteria that you got from your mom to increase in its numbers.
I can only speak for myself, but I thought there's 25 beneficial bacteria in your microbiome. 30, maybe? Based on the probiotics that were in the marketplace, I thought it was somewhere between 1 and 30 because that's what all the formulas have, right? So there's got to be 30. Then I started reading, I'm like, no there's actually 1000 beneficial microorganisms out of 35,000 possible. It's not this giant cauldron of fermentation. It's a very specific, intelligent system where nutrients are being absorbed and where infection is being controlled. It's where we are most intimate with our environment. Our skins are a barrier to entry. You're not intimate with the environment with your skin. Where you're intimate with the environment is the epithelial lining where you interact when you're absorbing nutrition.
That area is what's being decimated by our diets, by our lifestyle and by not having the tools in our diet because your grandmother, when she ate an apple, it had spores all over it. When my grandmother ate an apple and I'm sure my grandmother didn't live where your grandmother lived, but there were spores on her apples. So everyday, when they ate something in their food chain, they were given a dose of spores. That's done. That doesn't happen anymore in our food supplies, especially in the US. So this very important component of our digestive tract that was being introduced to us on a daily basis throughout life is now gone. And oh, guess what? At the same time, we're seeing all these incidents increasing of different disease processes. It's not a coincidence. It all starts in the gut.
So speaking of other diseases, now that you have this powerful tool where you can modulate the microbiome, what are the kinds of conditions that you've been able to treat now with more efficacy that you weren't able to treat before?
There are a lot, but I think the easiest and most dramatic place to focus is autoimmune disease. To be honest, I'm a chiropractor with limited tools. Diet, lifestyle, supplements, acupuncture, lasers, things like that. When I would sit down in the room with an arthritis patient, it got to a point where I was like "Look, I'm going to help you with your diet, but you need other help that I can't give you because I'm just not seeing the results. I treated 50 rheumatoid patients and I'd just not seen the results. I really don't want to waste your time and your money. Here's a plan to eat healthy and I really believe you should do that. Here are some supplements that are necessary, but that's all I can really do for you."
So when you start seeing those patients getting better, now you're like "Wait a minute, are we three steps down the line from the microbiome and having a major impact on this person's life?" Are we taking that stay-at-home mom who is 3 kids in and over her head stressed out, and now all of a sudden after her third pregnancy she's got Hashimoto's, never even heard of that, what is that? And she's exhausted, and now you're able to give that woman her life back? That's huge. And those were things that, in my practice, were lacking. I really didn't have anything in my toolbox where I could say consistently, "Yes, send me those patients. I can help them."
So there, it was most dramatic. Like with all things, I think there are certain groups of people that are your best teachers. And when it comes to the gut, it's really inflammatory bowel patients. They're so sensitive. Their bodies overreact to many different things. So one of the first inflammatory bowel patients I saw was an 18 year old boy who was two weeks before having 16 or 18 inches of his colon removed. He had an inflammatory bowel disease, he had Colitis for I think as early as 9 or 10 years old after a viral infection, something like that. I don't remember the exact details, but he basically came in with his mom with this premise of "What can we do to prep him for surgery, and what can we do post-surgery to improve?" because he's having 18 inches of his colon removed.
So I started him on the spores and within a few days mom called and said, "Is it possible he is already better? Because no longer is there any blood in his stool and he's not cramping." Cramping, for him, was one of his main symptoms. She's like "His cramping is way better and there's no blood in his stool." This is early on, and I'm like, "You know? It's probably a placebo effect, but don't worry about it. Just keep going with it and let me know how it goes." A couple of days later she's like, "You know what? I'm calling off the surgery." I said, "Okay, surgery is still on the table, we're just going to push it down the road a little bit. I'm fine with that." About two months into it, he was completely fine.
Now, we got him off wheat and dairy because he did show he had a sensitivity to those things. I probably haven't seen him in 8 or 9 months now, but the last time I saw him, he's out of college, he's got a job. He can eat gluten and dairy a little bit. If he eats too much, he starts to feel it. But if he takes the spores, it immediately resolves everything and he's good. So to see that kind of change in that difficult a case, I had never seen that before. And now, I see it pretty consistently. I'd be lying if I said it worked 100% of the time on 100% of the people, but I've never had a tool in my toolbox, and my toolbox is very gut-centric, I've never had a tool in my toolbox that was as effective as these spores have been.
As you talk about it, it strikes me that this is really getting to the root of what needs to happen for the microbiome, right? In functional medicine, when we look at these things, we keep drilling down to what is the most foundational piece that we can address that will kind of help everything up the chain from that. And as you're talking about this, it strikes me that the spores really do help form that foundation. Not just a bandaid like some of the typical probiotics do, but really getting to the root of changing the environment. I mean, you're saying these spores can survive getting through our GI system, they get to where they need to be, and they really create this environment in our gut that allows balance to flourish in a way that it doesn't otherwise. And that, then, forms the foundation for all of these other pieces.
For everything else. I mean gut-brain, everything else, I know! Until I'm shown other data, that's where my head's at. It is the foundation of everything.
Why is our balance so off? What's destroying our gut and microbiome?
I think there's a number of things that have slowly happened over the years. Poor farming practices, the quality of our food is less. Convenience again, speaking to the American component of the audience. So people eating more for convenience and not for nutrition. So there are simple things like that that have been happening over time. Of late, the incidents of antibiotic use, the increased quantities of glyphosate in our food supply. Those things have kind of taken the fire that was already there and just poured gasoline on it. So I believe that those things are at the root of why we're seeing an increase in autism and things like that, which brings us to an interesting conversation, the autistic crowd: They respond very favorably to microbiome manipulation. Why is that? So I think it's multi-factorial as to why our microbiomes are so dysfunctional, but it's some of the most recent decisions by the agribusiness, and how we're going to all pesticides are going to follow through one company, in the name of dollars, and as a result, the impact that's having on our microbiome, it seems that it's even more an impact there than anywhere else in our bodies.
And it sounds almost like these are things that are outside of our control, right? We would try to make choices for ourselves, our kids, our family, to keep them healthy, to keep their constitution healthy. But these are things that are in water, in our air, in our food supply that we can't get away from, so it's damaging this important ecology, right? What you're describing with the spores is really interesting, especially to this show because our whole premise is improving health through improving your biome, right? It's called The Better Biome Podcast. So it sounds like you've made a clinical career out of improving health through improving people's biomes. What are some of the other things that you do to help people's microbiomes, outside of the spores?
So diet's a huge one. Getting people to eat more roots and fibers and more of the prebiotic type foods is important. A lot of times when you get into the more difficult clinical presentations, the need for more of a precision type prebiotic comes into play, because some of those roots, fibers and tubers and things will actually feed a little bit of the pathogenic infections too.
So prebiotics being things that feed the microorganisms.
Right, but there are particular types of prebiotics that we know only feed the good guys. In the early years, I talked about the time in Belgium, we were using Jerusalem artichoke and inulin as a prebiotic, and 2 out of every 5 people that would take it would come back into the office and their bellies would be bloated out to here. What was happening was you were feeding the bad guys as well as the good guys, so you weren't getting any of that change. So there is a second generation of prebiotics called precision prebiotics, meaning they only feed the good guys, they don't feed the bad guys. What's interesting when we talk about what the good guys were: Clearly it's lactobacillus, right? Because it's the primary probiotic you see in everything. Lactobacillus makes up like 1% of the microbiome. So we're talking about strains that are anaerobic in nature, they produce high concentrations of short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids are hugely important for the health of our microbiome.
So we're talking about species like akkermansia muciniphila, faecalibacterium prausnitzii. Strains that consumers and most physicians had not never even heard of. But there's been a lot of research, and I think a lot of research has come because of the frustration of all the other probiotics not working, so some of the prebiotic companies were like, "We need to step in and fill this void." So I do, in a lot of clinical situations, I will look at prebiotics. When the gut gets dysbiotic, when a patient comes in and I'm like, okay I want to use the spores to manipulate your microbiome, what I'm saying is: You've got dysbiosis. You've got an imbalance. There are too many bad guys, not enough good guys. So when I'm in that situation and I'm looking at it, I'm like, "Okay, we're going to use the spores, we're going to do that. And maybe we're going to use the prebiotic." But let's back up. Okay. If it's dysbiotic, then I know that the mucin layer has probably shrunk. Maybe it's not even there. Maybe even in patches, it's not even there. So now, even if I manipulate the microbiome, the microbiome is still laying on the epithelial surface, we've got problems.
And you're talking really about the lining. For people who aren't familiar with those terms, the lining of that, which you can manipulate the microbiome all you want, but if structural integrity of the gut is compromised, that becomes a problem.
Right. If that mucin layer is not buffering the microbiome away from that epithelial layer, you've got problems, even if it's a healthy microbiome. What's happening then is now you've got the leaky gut. Now you've got the tight junctions opened up, the waste and the bacterial byproducts are streaming into the bloodstream. This is creating an inflammatory cascade that's at the root of, well, let's start: Every autoimmune disease, every digestive disorder that we know of, it's a big component of cardiovascular disease, a huge component of diabetes. It's the thing that takes someone from hyperglycemia to diabetes. We know that. It's a big component in cancer and the ability to respond to therapies.
Mental illness and those kinds of things.
Everything. So, it's at the root of just about everything that would come through my door. So even though I know I need to manipulate the microbiome and I know I need to increase the concentrations of these keystone strains that are producing these short-chain fatty acids, I've got to shut these gates. I've got to build that mucin layer back up. It was truly the inflammatory bowel patients where you learned that. Where you knew they were getting better. You knew their microbiome is getting healthier, but they would just have these responses that were, however big, maybe they were not getting better.
Inconsistent. They're like okay for a while, then backtracking. Yeah, that's frustrating for the patient as well as the practitioner.
Probably, also we think about diet and those kinds of things. I know for the patients that you see two things like physical movement and stress reduction all of those good things that we need to be doing to support our microbiome and our health.
We've gone on and done some research there, but it's like somebody comes in. A 21 year-old female who is very into her looks and she's got acne. So I've seen data where taking the spores improves the lesions of acne. So now, we're starting to see this impact on the microbiome in other areas. So being the gut guy, somebody like me would have said, oh you've got acne? Let's clean out your gut. But not a lot of physicians would do that. They're on anti-microbial and they're doing all those other things. So to be able to see in some of these other patients, not these very difficult type patients, but just a very simple patient who has got what looks like one problem, and it's at their gut. Can we increase the amount of short-chain fatty acids? Can we manipulate their microbiome so that their skin clears up? I think we're just tapping how deep this really goes, and we already know it goes deep. But I still think we're on the surface level. I don't think we have a full concept of how deep this goes.
What do you see as being on the horizon? Really the whole idea that the microbiome is so integral to healing and health. That, in the course of time, is a fairly recent development. And then the spores that you are talking about are even more recent. So this is sort of an exciting horizon that we've got, coming here with this. Where do you see that going? What do you see as, maybe where the research needs to go with that or maybe some interesting studies that are in process, related to that, and how we will continue to look at the applications of the spores and of these things?
I think if a company sells probiotics, they need to do research on their probiotic. That's just it. Period. End of story. Don't build new bridges. Show me the facts, show me the science. All those companies need to be held accountable for that. So to me, that's step one. I think, and our company has been at the forefront of this because there is a lot of misinformation out there. But I believe the ability to diagnose the microbiome, to be able to understand the imbalances that are in the microbiome. Not necessarily why they're there. No test is going to tell you that. But to be able to say, "Hey, at this point in time right now, you've got this type of imbalance and these are the steps that we need to do in order to correct that, and this is why, and this is the science that supports that why that's where we've focused a lot of our time, energy and resources.
There are still tests out there and the consumer and a lot of the physicians hold them to be factual, when nothing could be further from the truth. They are not specific enough to give you the information they say they're giving you. They're telling you this is high and this is low, when normal has never been established, they're not giving you any information that's actionable. Okay, what do I do with this information? I paid $800 for this test. What do I do with it now? "Well, you do this." Well, weren't you going to do that anyway and without the test? Why do the test? So, I feel like the ability to diagnose effectively what's out of balance in the microbiome and offer actionable steps to correct it is the missing link, and I think that that's the new exciting frontier.
So at Microbiome Labs, we've been working on what we call the biome effects test. It's a microbiome test and it's designed to not just say "This is high" or "This is low", but to understand the groups of bacteria, the ones that are making the short-chain fatty acids. Are they there in the right proportions? Are there pathogens that are over-competing with these ones, and is that changing the microbiome? So there is so much information, but actionable. Things that you can say to the physician: "If you can get your patient to do these things, they will see these results, and here's the research that proves that." So it sounds like an obvious thing, but it's just not what's happening in the marketplace.
I think there's so much out there. There's been more and more of that, but you're right. People get these huge reports, and it doesn't tell people things that are helpful to them. "What do I do with this? I see all these numbers, I see all of these things." I think your point is an important one, that sometimes and I think it's done in an effort truly to help people, but sometimes we get the cart before the horse in terms of "Well, we need to look at all this bacteria and we need to have a test for this. So let's put something out there." Without really looking at what is research-based? What's actually going to be meaningful? So you're saying that's an important next step, it's more meaningful, accurate, applicable testing that helps people look at this.
Whole genome sequencing is the only type of testing that gives you the specificity that you need for those types of tests. Yet, all the tests on the physicians' market are not. And I'll have conversations with these guys when I see them. It's like, what are you doing? What is your goal? You're passing all this information, maybe making a lot of money, whatever, but are you helping people? Or are you confusing people? As president of the company, it was not my goal to do stool tests. But what was happening was week in and week out, we were having to answer to patients and physicians, "Well, how come my stool test is" and it's like, well you're using a piece of garbage. It's of no clinical benefit, no clinical use. You're getting no information from it. So I can't answer your question because you're using something that's ineffective. And asking, just asking simple questions: Why are people doing this? Isn't there something else out there? So we're excited, and I think over the next few months, we'll launch in some of the physician's market. I think it's going to offer the physicians a new tool that they can communicate to the patients. It's going to be something that the patient can go home with and say, "Okay, these are the things I've got to work on", and then when I do the test in 3 months, "Ah, look! I improved! I did what I was supposed to do and I improved! I did these actionable steps and I'm in a better place. So that's the exciting thing for me.
I like talking in analogies, because I think it helps people understand these complex things, right? So would you say, let's say I'm a teacher and I'm taking over a classroom and the information I get about the kids in the classroom is "You've got 6 boys and 9 girls. One boy has brown hair, one boy has red hair, one boy has blue eyes." Then they give you these factual descriptions that really don't help you understand how to approach these kids in the classroom. So that's the common test that's available, that's kind of what you're saying. Then this new version of the test gives you "You have 6 boys, you have 4 or 5 girls. One has a learning disability, one is really smart, one is really good at math, but not really good at reading." So you're getting all of this personality functionality out of it, right?
Yeah, something the teacher can then use to put together a plan, right.
What's interesting is you used the word functional medicine a lot from the beginning. A lot of our audience may not know what functional medicine is, so maybe we should define that as well. But to tie into that, it sounds like what you're saying is this functional medicine approach to health, which is by far, the better approach to health there's actually a recent study that showed that functional medicine approach gets much better clinical results than the conventional one-dimensional approach. But the tests that docs have been using to test the microbiome is not functional at all. So it's a functional medicine practice using a non-functional test. So this new version is really a functional test.
Right. Actionable steps. I mean I can't tell you how many stool tests I've looked at from everyone in the different companies. And it's like you look at it and you're like, "Well now, what do we do? Where do we go?" And you go, "You have to give them that bacteria and give them that bacteria" under this premise that you're going to reseed their microbiome. It's a perpetuation of the nonsense. So this functional medicine is kind of a way of looking at again, using the analogy, I like to talk about the gallbladder because a lot of people have family or friends who have lost their gallbladder. In functional medicine the person who is going to lose their gallbladder two years from now is being consulted, and saying "You know what, the bile is just not flowing in your gallbladder. You're not digesting your fats correctly. And if we don't fix this, you can get a stone and you could lose your gallbladder. We don't want that." So the functional medicine approach is two, three, five, ten years before saying "This organ isn't working like it's supposed to. Let's do some things to improve that. Let's change your diet, because that's probably how you got here, but then, let's give you some support so that we don't lose your gallbladder two years from now." So to me, it's the only logical way that you practice medicine. It's the only way I've ever practiced medicine. Not 24 years ago, it was a very small group of us practicing. It definitely has grown over the last few decades, and even in the last few years, I'm seeing more and more GPs and more and more internists that are showing up because they've seen in their community, their patients, the ones that were doing a combination of what they were telling them to do with what the chiropractor was telling them to do, they got better than the ones that just did what they told them to do. Doctors are good people. It's just the information that they're basing it on. So you can give them the science and that's why I say it. I implore these other probiotic companies. Do the research. That way you could tell the doctors what your product does. Don't give the nonsense. Base it on science, and then, let's have a conversation.
To me, the functional medicine approach, or the movement towards more functional medicine is about getting to the root of things. Even for somebody who's got a really serious problem now, let's back up and look at what the root of this is. It's about doing more than bandaids. But I think it's also really about empowering patients to understand how to build foundations of good health for themselves. Not just to think about health when I'm not well, but to think about how I can support health, and really, as I'm listening to you talk, whether it's about spores or about the stool testing, that's really at the root of your mission - is to help empower patients, people to understand how their body is working or not working and to be able to take what really can be some pretty simple steps once you understand it to improve that, and empowering people to do that. And as you tell your story and talk about all this, it seems to me that's a thread throughout.
Yeah. Don't feed me fish. Teach me how to fish and I'll feed myself.
Yeah. Love that. This has been such a powerful conversation. Your story and career journey is so fascinating and clearly has led you to a place where you have been able to not just help individual patients in your practice, but really develop products and options for helping just so many people, so we really appreciate you coming by today and sharing all of that with us. Thanks for being here.
Thank you for having me.
So thanks to all of you for joining us for today's episode of The Better Biome Podcast. Tune in next week to continue with us as we journey through the universe within.