Bonus: Dr. Tom O’Bryan – Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease


JONATHAN: Hey, everyone, Jonathan Bailor back…with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim Show and I’m riled up because in the last ten minutes I’ve been having a little pre-show conversation with our wonderful guest today and he has gotten me excited because we’ve got some very cutting edge research to share that is — often times cutting edge research can be like, oh, it’s cutting edge if it applies to .0000 percent of the world. That is not at all the case here.

Our guest is one of the top experts in the world in terms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity and he has just been all over the world doing research and working with dare I say tens if not hundreds of thousands of people to understand these conditions and he’s here with us today to share not only the 101, just to get us familiar with these conditions, but also some amazing new findings that are coming out of the scientific community, so I couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce you to our guest, Dr. Tom O’Bryan. Dr. O’Bryan, welcome to the show, brother.

TOM: Thank you Jonathan, it’s a real pleasure to be here with you.

JONATHAN: Well, Dr. O’Bryan, let’s get started just 101 — for our listeners – let’s start from the beginning which is – what – what do you do and why are you so passionate about it?

TOM: Good – good – what I do is I travel the world lecturing to medical conferences, groups of health care practitioners of all types, acupuncturists, osteopath, chiropractors, medical doctors, and then whenever I’m in a city lecturing at a medical conference, I often will – my staff will set up a lecture for free to local (Inaudible 00:02:12) support groups, or celiac support groups so I talk a lot to the general public also and whenever I speak in the general public arena, there is always one or two women who will start crying because they finally understand why they had recurrent miscarriages and no one could explain it to them. They finally get it. So, what we’re going to talk about here today is just a jaw dropper for some people – not everyone in the world, but for some people.

So, that’s my thing and the reason I’m so passionate about it is that, well, perhaps I’ll start with a story…

I got a call one day that my godmother was on the way to the hospital. I said, what’s wrong, they didn’t know, some type of — abdominal pain and her health history — she was 82 and she had only been at the hospital for two natural childbirths and a car accident, when she was in her 60s and broke a hip — was in the hospital for a week. The only medication she ever took in her life was for her broken hip for about a year, pain medication — never any meds, 82 years old.

Every year she’d have a physical and her doctor would say, Emily, you’re as healthy as a horse, but you have to stop drinking. That’s because she had mildly elevated liver enzymes and my Aunt Emily would say, I don’t drink and she didn’t and every doctor knows that (Inaudible 00:3:29) to give patients we do a blood test, they’ve got mildly elevated liver enzymes, no other indicator — of a problem and we just watch it and see if anything shows up. When you have mildly elevated liver enzymes, liver enzymes are a measure of dead liver cells and there’s a normal number of cells you lose every day, so you make some, you lose some, the goal is that you’re making as many as you’re losing, that’s the normal range of a blood test. You’re making as many as you’re losing.

When you have mildly elevated liver cells, you’re losing more cells than you’re making, then they rush her off to the hospital. They find out that she’s got 4 percent of her liver functioning, the other 96 percent is sclerosis (??), it’s all scabbed and it’s a dead tissue and…she never had any symptoms with this – but, now you have an 82 year old woman and then all the blood flows through the liver in the body, now all the blood is going through 4 percent of the liver. Now, those blood vessels handling the 4 percent of the liver, those blood vessels are having to handle 100 percent of the blood. So, what happens to a blood vessel that’s only supposed to be handle 4 percent, now it’s handling 100 percent. It bursts — that’s internal hemorrhaging. Oh, severe pain. They rush her to the hospital. They find out and they do emergency surgery. They save her life. I call my cousin, her daughter, and say, have the doctor do this blood test. Okay, (Inaudible 00:4:52) because that’s the blood test for celiac disease, my cousin, well, why would we do that, I said, it might have contributed to your mom’s problem. So, I didn’t hear anything, but my godmother had six more emergency surgeries in the next eight weeks, excuse me, another total of six, five more in the next eight weeks…in two months, she had six emergency surgeries, because the blood vessels keep bursting. What can you do, you can’t give an 82 year old woman a new liver. Finally, they say, Emily, go home, make your peace. Your, your liver’s paper thin, we can’t do anymore surgery. She said how much time do I have? We don’t know, two weeks, two months. It will be quick.

So, that’s when I flew to Pittsburgh to say goodbye to my godmother. You ever said goodbye to someone that’s known you longer than you’ve known you? (Inaudible 00:5:44) it was not easy. I stayed three days and oh, back up for a minute — in the middle of that, two months of the surgeries, I called my cousin, Cindy – (??) what happened to the blood test? Oh, the doctor said you’re probably a nice man, but you really don’t know what you’re talking about. So, they didn’t do the blood test. So, I went to Pittsburgh and my godmother was in the living room one morning. I wake up early and I went (Inaudible 06:11) and she was there and she couldn’t sleep, so I had her lay down, and I drew her blood, I brought (Inaudible 00:6:16) I drew her blood, I called the lab and said, come get this blood right away and they did. And she’s a celiac patient.

Now, I would have liked to have told that Hepatologist, the liver specialist who surgeon who saved her life, he’s a fabulous surgeon — Doctor, did you ever read the Journal of Hepatology? Did you read the article called, “The Liver and Celiac Disease,” where they say — and this is from Mayo Clinic — every patient who has abnormal liver biopsy and they can’t find a reason for it — at Mayo Clinic they take out a piece of liver, they look at under a microscope, they can’t tell what’s wrong. Every one of those patients reverse on a gluten free diet. Every one of them — and there’s 50 percent of adults and 46 percent of children when first diagnosed they had mildly elevated liver enzymes and that may be the only presentation. Did you read that study, and of course he didn’t, that’s why he didn’t do the blood test.

So, I drew the blood, my godmother was a celiac patient and I had a meeting with them and I said Aunt Emily, I don’t know how much time you have, they say two weeks, two months, I don’t know. I can promise you you’re going to feel better, you if you don’t eat anymore gluten and theysaid okay, okay, I showed them the article and I had my laptop with me, I show them the article from Mayo Clinic that this is a likely contributor to what happens (Inaudible 00:7:29) so she didn’t live two weeks — she didn’t live two months — she lived a year and a half. A year and a half — and when I did this presentation to doctors in seminars I said, what had to change in terms of the integrity of those blood vessels where the blood vessels burst six times in two months and all of a sudden they stop bursting. How many changes had to occur and no one knows, because no one’s ever studied this. She lived a year and a half and she had no pain whatsoever. In (Inaudible 00:7:56), she developed cancer and she called one day and said, Tom, I’ve got cancer. I said, I know. She said how do you know and I said, it’s very common. Why didn’t you tell me? Well, what for, there is no reason to tell you this. What should I do? I said, I don’t know, but I researched it for her and it took two days to research it and I got back to her and said, Aunt Emily, there’s no study that shows you’ll live a day longer, you’ll likely get very sick with chemotherapy, or radiation, you’ll lose your hair and you’ll just feel terrible. It’s up to you. I’ll support you with whatever you want. So, she didn’t do that. She didn’t do it. She said (Inaudible 00:8:29) her projected life span was two hours. Two hours or two weeks anyway. She could die at any time. Finally, after a year and a half they called me and (Inaudible 00:8:38) but, they called me and said any day now. And I flew immediatelyback to Pittsburgh. My godmother weighed 53 lbs., the cancer had eaten away at her, but she didn’t have any pain, just chronic fatigue, (Inaudible 00:8:53), so this is hard — it’s hard to talk about this, I still feel it, I put my head in her lap, I was sitting at her bedside as she’s stroking my hair, I still feel it whenever I talk about it – I’m sobbing, this is my godmother, who has just withered away – and I lift my head up and I look her in the eye, tears are running down my cheeks and she’s got tears running down her cheeks and she says, thank you, Tommy, thank you, because she had a year and a half. And then she got this fire in her eye, Jonathan, and she said, “You tell ‘em, you tell ‘em,” and I said I will Aunt Emily, I will.

So, I travel the world and I just want people to be aware that if you have this problem, it’s gonna kill you and you may think on the death certificate your father died of a heart attack, but like mine, but it was a heart attack secondary to gluten sensitivity or liver cancer, as my godmother’s death certificate said. But, it’s liver cancer, secondary to gluten sensitivity or Alzheimer’s, or seizures, or rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes, or psoriasis – (??) and the list goes on and on and on that for some people wherever your genetic weak link is – you know you’re pulling a chain, it breaks at the weak link — it’s at one end, the middle, the other end, it’s your heart, your liver, your kidney, your spleen, wherever your weak link is, that’s where it’s going to show itself when you pull at the chain too much and how do you pull at the chain, eating a food that your body can’t digest. Causing inflammation, causing intestinal permeability, aka the leaky gut — it’s triggering the development or autoimmune conditions, tissue damage from the autoimmune conditions, tissue destruction and eventual symptoms and then eventual diagnosis, and then eventual mortality. That’s the sequential order of what happens to one of the most common triggers in the world today that people just don’t know about.

JONATHAN: Dr. O’Bryan, I – I so appreciate you sharing this story and it is pretty common in my experience for individuals who are as passionate as you are and as I know I am about proper nutrition and the impact that food can have on lifestyle to have that — while we have a scientific basis for everything and while science is our life, when we see the real impact that the quality of what we put into our body has on the quality of our lives and the lives of those we love, (Inaudible 00:11:27) this is about way more than numbers on scales or way more about who’s right or wrong, in nutrition debates — this is about life and death and to that point, Dr. O’Bryan, we’re talking about gluten here and we’re talking about, therefore, wheat and entities these things which are so common in our culture. I can imagine you must get so fired up when you hear the mainstream media’s message which they beat into our heads every day of oh, oh, everything in moderation. It’s about moderation, isn’t it — Dr. O’Bryan?”

TOM: Let me – I nailed that one in my summit, which I’ll tell you about in a couple of minutes. I nailed it. I spoke to the world’s leading immunologist in the field of autoimmunity. He’s at Telaviv University, his name’s Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld– and I asked that question about the concept of a rotation diet being a little bit in moderation and the answer was…your body makes memory cells when you’re allergic to a food, when you’re having immune/a new (?? 12:40) reaction to a food, it’s just like a vaccination to measles. You get a shot of the bug measles, your immune system says, what’s this, (Inaudible 00:12:47) and you build an assembly line that starts producing soldiers, they’re called antibodies against measles. Those measles antibodies are going everywhere destroying the measles from the vaccination you got. When all those measles bugs are destroyed there’s a General that overviews all of this, General Measles, and General Measles turns off the assembly line. You should not have any measles antibodies in your bloodstream right now, unless you’ve been exposed — but, if you’re ever exposed again, General Measles just has to flip the switch and you start making the antibodies, just have to build the assembly line. That’s like if you go to Africa, you need vaccinations months and months and months ahead of time, but if you go back to visit ten years later, you just need a booster shot two weeks before you go. Everyone knows about a booster shot because General Measles is already there. (Inaudible 00:13:40) if you have a sensitivity to gluten you get General Gluten, who’s there the rest of your life – it’s called a memory B-cell – (??) (Inaudible 00:13:46).

So, to think that you could have a little gluten once in a while is like saying, you can have a little measles once in a while. It’s okay. It’s not going to kill you – but, the answer is yes, it may — you just can’t do that. It’s telling patients what they want to hear for comfort as opposed to talking from the science.

JONATHAN: Dr. O’Bryan, what do we have to do – at this point is such a critical point, because as long as we’re trapped in these calorie myths and a calorie is a calorie then these conversations about gluten don’t get the attention they deserve because it’s oh, well, it’s just calories, so we’ll just eat less and clearly that is not – that is like saying to someone, the way to avoid lung cancer is to smoke less, well that’s not true. The way to avoid lung cancer is to not smoke. There is no such thing as smoking in moderation so in understanding the acuity and the severity of what gluten containing edible products can do to us, do you see a future where we give up this myth of moderation and just accept the science which seems quite clear?

TOM: Yes, I do. I absolutely do. There is more and more science coming out every day and the term I use is, you can’t be a little pregnant, you can’t have a little gluten. If you have sensitivity, the science is very clear about it and the studies say time and time again, they say it’s a permanent sensitivity intolerance to gluten. It’s permanent, it’s not like (Inaudible 00:15:25) it’s not chronic, it’s permanent and that’s the word that the researchers use. Could they say it any clearer, but the clinicians or doctors who have – they don’t quite get it themselves because many of them don’t want to give up their (Inaudible 00:15:38) and their blueberry muffins or whatever else they’re eating because it’s a comfort food that we’ve all grown up on — they say it in a way to their patients interpreting what their belief system. This is not about believing in gluten sensitivity. You don’t believe or not believe in gluten sensitivity. You can have a blood test and you find out.

Let me give you an example of the shocking nature of this. This paper just came out in the American Journal of Psychiatry – (??).In Sweden, they’ve got socialized medicine. I think (Inaudible 00:16:13) everyone. And for 30 or 40 years, I’m not sure how long — 30 or 40 years, they’ve been taking a blood (Inaudible 00:16:19) at birth of the baby’s blood, the fetal blood and they put it on a card and they let it dry and then they store it. So, they’ve got records on millions and millions of people. They went back and they looked at about these blood spots and did the baby’s blood have antibodies to gluten to the protein in gluten. Now, mom, aboutthe eight month, or third trimester, mom’s body, when she’s pregnant starts passing some of her antibodies down to the baby through the blood. So, the baby has what’s called IgG antibodies, mom’s antibodies,and the baby’s blood. (Inaudible 00:17:01) okay baby. Here’s some antibodies to our (Inaudible 00:17:04) It’s a nice (Inaudible 00:17:06) that they’re going to come home to, your immune system doesn’t have to get worried about it. Here’s a few antibodies….or we live in the woods and there’s mold outside because the leaves (Inaudible 00:17:17) here’s a few antibodies to the mold. Don’t have to react to it, just have a few antibodies to protect you. That’s what mom’s IgG antibodies do is prime their fetus for the world that it’s about to come out into — to protect it. Great thing to do.

So, they looked at these IgG antibodies and the fetal blood at birth and they’re all from the mom. The baby doesn’t start making them until a couple of months down, then they begin, a couple of months after birth. What do they find? Those mothers in the top 10 percent of IgG antibodies to the protein in wheat and the baby’s blood at birth, those children were 70 percent more likely to develop schizophrenia as an adult, 30 to 40 years later. If the mother was in the top 5 percent, not 10 percent, but the top 5 percent of antibodies being a whole lot of those antibodies, their offspring were 240 percent more likely to develop schizophrenia 30 to 40 years later as an adult. This just came out. The title of the paper is, “Maternal antibodies, dietary antigens at risk for psychosis in offspring.” We’re all looking at this like, oh, my goodness, what does this mean? It means that if mom has a sensitivity to gluten, it appears to impact at the development of the brain and the nervous system in the baby, which may not show for 30 or 40 years. I’ve been talking about this the last three weeks in my seminars. So, the next (Inaudible 00:18:54) I look at the doctor and I say, so what do you with this? What do you do with this information? Here’s what you do. Every pregnant woman gets checked for antibodies to gluten. If they have the antibodies to gluten you take them off gluten for the rest of the pregnancy, just to be safe. You err on the side of safety. You don’t have to believe or not believe. This is what the immune system is doing. Here’s the result for some of these offspring, 30 to 40 years later. Get the gluten out of the pregnant woman’s diet at least during the pregnancy. That’s common sense. And that’s the world of gluten sensitivity, Jonathan and how it may impact (Inaudible 00:19:32).

JONATHAN: And Dr. O’Bryan, if nothing else, when we see that there is a substance that has this severe of a reaction to this many people, it can hopefully serve as the spearhead of a movement which is just because something is found on your supermarket shelf and not in your supermarket pharmacy, doesn’t mean that it cannot impact your body completely independent of the calories it contains, in ways and in negative ways and cross-generationally — that we are only beginning to understand and to just say, oh, we’ll just eat less and exercise more and everything in moderation and these opinions are truly not only scientifically (Inaudible 00:20:25), but can be deadly. Is that fair?

TOM: Jonathan, that’s a very fair summary. From the concept of eating less, yes, obesity is a major epidemic and it is the primary epidemic in our world today and yes, for a large percentage of those people it is calories, but for a higher percentage it’s not. So, eat less is not the primary recommendation (Inaudible 00:20:50) for obesity and exercise more — everyone should be using their body of course, that makes perfect sense and moderation — absolutely not. What kind of archaic nonsense is that? Excuse me. But, it’s nonsense.

Now, this study that just came out in the American Journal of Psychiatry, it will be years before our doctors understand this. Years before it becomes common knowledge. This is just buried in a psychiatry journal. How many general practitioners are going to read this or pediatricians, or obstetricians? It’s not going to happen because it’s in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

JONATHAN: Absolutely and this is, Dr. O’Bryan, I’m so happy that we can share this with our listeners, because you know over here at the Smarter Science of Slim we are quite anti-starch. We do not believe that we should be (Inaudible 00:21:41) our stomach real estate being filled with starch and we would much rather have much more nutrient and dense foods, but clearly only scratched the surface here and this is a very big topic which has a very big impact on a big percentage of the population and I know you’ve got some big things coming up in terms of spreading the word about this, so just to wrap up the show today, what can we expect from you next in terms of raising awareness?

TOM: Oh, thank you Jonathan. As you can tell, I’ve got a little juice on this. My godmother told me to do this and I’ve decided that I am going move the needle of recognition that for some people sometimes this is a major problem and they don’t know it. So, I interviewed 29 of the world’s experts. These are the very top people in the field that some of them have never been interviewed. And I interviewed them about their area of expertise in this whole gluten sensitivity celiac disease and I interrupted them often, I (Inaudible 00:00:00) I said, I may interrupt you so they’re talking, I said, professor, professor, excuse me, did you just say — yes, does that mean yes, so would that mean yes, did you hear that people? You’re (Inaudible 00:22:54) and so I do the interpretation for the general public, I’m airing all of these interviews online at no charge. It’s completely free, there’s no (Inaudible 00:23:04), there’s nothing being sold, I just want the knowledge out there, the website is I believe — did you say you’re going to host it so that people can get the website?

JONATHAN: Absolutely. Yeah, folks just go to the show notes for this show and you can get all the information there.

TOM: That’s fabulous. Thank you. It’s called the Gluten Summit and it’s going to air November 11th, through the 17th. Everything is free. I have world class nutritionistswho tell us how do you order in a restaurant. Here’s a clue. How do you order in a restaurant? Jackie Carter – (??) from Montreal, she’s a celiac, I said, Jackie, so you’re a sensitive celiac aren’t you? Yes, if I have an exposure for three or four days I’m suffering. Well, you’re a single woman? Yes. You go out to restaurants…Yes. How do you feel safe going to restaurants? Oh, that’s easy. When I go to restaurants, I ask for the owner. And I immediately introduce myself and say I’m a sensitive celiac. To avoid that 911 incident in your restaurant, will you make sure — and I just started to laugh and that’s brilliant. Just brilliant. So it’s little (Inaudible 00:24:04) how do send your kids to school with lunches that are healthy and tasty and (Inaudible 00:24:10) going to eat your kids’ lunch of all our nutritionists gave their (Inaudible 00:24:15) in these interviews, because I asked the questions to pull the (Inaudible 00:24:19) out and that’s going to air November 11th, 17th, it’s all free and everyone will check it out and tell their friends about it.

JONATHAN: Well, brilliant and I know listeners that in the meantime, please hop over to Dr. O’Bryan’s website which is thedr.com, I’m not sure how he was able to get that domain name, but that is pretty awesome, it’s T-H-E, D-as in Dog, R- as in Richard, .com. His name again is Dr. Tom O’Bryan, obviously a very passionate and wonderful soldier in this war against nonsense. So Dr. O’Bryan, thank you again so much for sharing your passion and knowledge with us today and I’m so excited for everyone to learn even more (Inaudible 00:24:59) upcoming Gluten (??) summit.

TOM: Jonathan, thank you for the opportunity.

JONATHAN: Listeners, I hope you enjoyed this wonderful and potentially life-saving conversation as much as I did. Our wonderful guest again, Dr. Tom O’Bryan, check him out at thedr.com, also check out the show notes for more information about his upcoming summit and please remember, this week and every week after — eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Chat with you soon.

This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Dr. Tom O Bryan. In his own words:

“Dr. Tom O’Bryan is an Internationally recognized speaker and workshop leader specializing in Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease. He is a ‘Sherlock Holmes’ for chronic disease and metabolic disorders.  He is a clinician par excellence in treating chronic disease and metabolic disorders from a Functional Medicine Perspective.  He holds a teaching Faculty position with the Institute for Functional Medicine.  Dr. O’Bryan is always one of the most respected, highly-appreciated speakers.  Dr. O’Bryan’s passion is in teaching the many manifestations of Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease as they occur inside and outside of the intestines.”