Videos & Podcasts

Vitamin D, Sleep, Gut Bacteria and Health – High-Intensity Health Podcast

Dr. Gominak Headshot with Sweater

Dr. Stasha Gominak

October 2017

Source: High Intensity Health

Mike Mutzel, host of the High-Intensity Health podcast interviews Dr. Gominak for one of her most popular interviews. Discover why this insightful discussion about sleep, vitamin D, gut health, and methylation has over 2 million views on YouTube (and counting!).

Dr. Stasha Gominak: If you sleep better, the brain appears to remember all the deferred repairs. Patients who had Lupus, who had been sick for 20 years, ended up needing bigger doses of Bs than I did. I wasn’t very sick, I needed slightly more. It’s almost as though when the brain says, “You know, I’m doing so well, I’d like to do three-and-a-half hours of REM.” It appears to remember. That means there must be stages of sleep where you can actually repair the body and remake things that have been injured, but you must get into this very specific phase for all the pieces to be in place to do that. We are completely self-healing, and we have the opportunity to reverse really terrible things, but you do that by sleeping the right amount. Some people ended up a year and a half after correcting their intestinal bacteria, needing more Bs, but only if they were sleeping better. My theory was, they were actually making more repairs and needed slightly more Bs. They needed more than what these guys make naturally. If these guys only make the basal amount we need, and I’m encouraging your brain to sleep even better by keeping the D perfect, you might need slightly more.

Mike Mutzel: Hello, friend. It’s Mike Mutzel with High Intensity Health. Thanks for tuning in. I’m very excited here to be with Dr. Stasha Gominak, and we’re going to talk all about sleep, Vitamin D, the microbiome, and much more. But before we dive into it, I want to thank a mutual friend of ours, Dr. Mark Burhenne. Thanks, Dr. Mark, for introducing us, and for all the research he’s done in sleep-disordered breathing and mouth taping. I think this is a great launching place. My mentor, Gerard Guillory, a physician in Denver, Colorado, studied out in Boston a little bit as well, and under Dr. Holick. He got inspired by Vitamin D that way. He noticed that his patients who took Vitamin D at night got deeper sleep. And so, when we started talking on the phone about this connection between Vitamin D, sleep, the microbiome repair, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is like what I’ve been hearing anecdotally from Dr. Guillory for a while.” So, let’s launch with how you got into this. First, scale back and talk a little bit about your practice as a neurologist and looking at sleep-disordered breathing.

Stasha: Most of the patients I was sending for sleep studies were young, healthy females, a totally different group than what we were told to look for, and that group didn’t have Sleep Apnea. They just didn’t have any REM. And since we don’t have any drugs and I couldn’t give them CPAP devices, I’m stuck with now hundreds of little kids, teenagers, and young healthy females with no REM. Then, by accident, I had a patient who got a full night’s sleep: 10 hours. She’s sleeping, so I can’t give her a sleeping pill. She has a very low B12. I’m spending all this time thinking, “They’re not stopping breathing. They just don’t have REM. How could that happen?”

I’m spending all this time with this part of the brainstem that runs that and reading all these articles about how the cells run REM sleep. How do we get into REM? How do we come out of REM? What do we know about that? And nobody is saying anything about it. Nobody is even reporting that on the front page of the report. It’s hidden in the report, and I don’t even know it until later when my pulmonologist tells me.

All of a sudden, I do B12s, and then somebody asks me to check their Vitamin D. I throw that in there because I’m doing blood already. Then everybody has low Vitamin D, and there are Vitamin D receptors in these cells that I’ve been reading about for three years. So, it’s not like I went looking for a connection. I went looking for, “Why are these cells malfunctioning in all these healthy people? Little kids, why would little kids not have any REM? So I’m thinking for years about why these cells are malfunctioning the way they are, why they’re doing it in such a huge population. If you count not only Sleep Apnea but count everybody who has interrupted sleep, who can’t get out of bed, who has pain on awakening, that’s three-quarters of the population. It’s horrifying. That means, whatever is happening, it’s happening throughout that huge population and in a specific timeframe. Because I was alive before this happened, and I went to medical school before Sleep Apnea, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue, we never learned about those diagnoses. We all thought they were bullshit. We thought they were made up.

Mike: So Sleep Apnea back in the ’70s and ’60s didn’t exist? 

Stasha: Didn’t exist.

Mike: Oh, wow.

Stasha: Because you’re younger, you don’t have that framework. It did not exist. It was there, but it wasn’t an epidemic. There were populations where you could describe that, and they actually had old paintings they used when they first began to talk about Sleep Apnea. Big fat guys who were stopping breathing while sitting in a chair upright, sleeping, were the icon they used to describe it. So, those people existed. All the diseases we see now, and if you look back, Dickens’ descriptions of the poor that worked in brick factories, so back in the early 1800s is the very first time the entire population moves into living and working indoors for their entire life. That’s when big, non-healing Ulcers, Rickets, Heart Failure, Diabetes, and Renal Failure all begin to be described. So, all the diseases we now see as an epidemic were really described in the early 1800s when a group that was raising sheep, standing outside, a pastoral life, had a house, went there only at night, then moved into factories for the very first time.

So all those diseases are now epidemic. And thinking of it that way means you take out the dietary exercise to some extent, but not all. But the diet that was a pastoral life 200 years ago. You look at that and go, “Hmm, is that a lot different now?” All the features you talk about, daily exercise is absolutely a big player, but it turns out that the Maasai can live only on the milk and blood of their cattle, that’s a really interesting thing. So, there are certain diets around the globe that are very narrow. They won’t be able to live on blood alone or on milk alone, but they can live on that combination and thrive, as long as they live outdoors. So, that tribe has still kept tiny little huts. They have not moved indoors.

Mike: So the brainstem is a critical factor in the function of deep restorative sleep? 

Stasha: Yes. It is the switch. It doesn’t do all the details that happen above, but there is a basic on/off switch, and that on/off switch paralyzes us. There are two things that happen. One, you have to get paralyzed correctly to fix everything. And two, you have to be able to switch into and out of these different phases. There is a little group of nuclei in the brainstem and they have Vitamin D receptors. I thought that was really amazing when I ran into it and then I thought, “Everybody’s Vitamin D is low. No one thinks of D as having anything to do with the brain.” But it turns out there are articles from the 1980s that show if you give Vitamin D to those particular cells, the Vitamin D goes into the nucleus and expresses the enzyme that makes a particular Neurotransmitter. It doesn’t make all of them, it makes Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine, oddly enough, is what makes us get paralyzed correctly in sleep.

Looking at all that, Vitamin D turns out to be a major player. It’s not the only player. And ultimately, all of this stuff works with the Neurotransmitters. That means have to understand that every single person who becomes deficient has a different mix of which Neurotransmitters aren’t right. If you look at it that way, that means they can present in all kinds of different flavors. They’ll have other effects as well as why they don’t make Acetylcholine, or why they don’t make this other Neurotransmitter. Therefore, there will be somebody who has Insomnia, someone who wakes frequently, or somebody who can’t sleep until the daytime. Instead of looking at it as a list, you think of it as, “Oh, these all have the same root cause, but are manifesting in different ways.” That’s what changed the way I looked at Sleep Disorders.

Mike: Yeah, really interesting stuff. But I think some people will get confused when you say the brainstem induces paralyzation in the body temporarily. “Wait, paralyze while you’re asleep? What is that?” And then how does that tie into sleep-disordered breathing, and our mutual friend, Dr. Mark Burhenne? Let’s talk about that, the placement of the tongue, and how that can have this cycle on this whole sleep-disordered breathing, Sleep Apnea, etcetera.

Stasha: The first thing to think about is that our sleep is the same as the sleep of the dinosaurs. This part of the brain is exactly the same as in dinosaurs. That means it’s engineered so beautifully and it’s had so many chances to be changed, yet it stays the same. The idea that we have to get paralyzed while we’re sleeping is bizarre. If you don’t swallow your own spit, you drown. If you stop breathing, you die. So, this part of the brain is already set up to notice when you stop breathing. For patients who stop breathing, it’s not their wife or the technician who runs in during the sleep study that wakes them, their brain wakes them. That means the design of getting paralyzed already thought about the option of, “Uh-oh, what if he stopped breathing? Oh, we have to pay attention to that.” It wakes you to light sleep and then you’re not paralyzed. We really don’t know why you have to get paralyzed.

I’ve thought about that for 10 years now and I made up an explanation which was, “Well, you can’t fix a pump when it’s pumping. You turn it off and you open it up, and then you fix things inside it.” So, my theory is that you must get paralyzed. Every moving part must get paralyzed in order to fix tendons, muscles, and arteries, anything that’s being used every day gets used up, and then you have to repair it every night. In order to get to a place where you can fix it, you have to paralyze it. I don’t think the brain or the liver gets paralyzed. They’re not moving, but the parts that are moving, you have to paralyze them. This little nucleus I was telling you about is broken into three different groups, one that does this part, that really governs the face, nose, throat, a large area, diaphragm, chest wall, and all the other ones.

Those cells are actually split out. There’s a little wire that goes from this particular cell in the brainstem that paralyzes your toe, paralyzes your calf, and then paralyzes your thigh. It turns out that they’re probably grouped functionally, so what we see in those sleep studies is periodic limb movements. That means they’re walking movements. They’re periodic because they walk. That means that most of the time, the people who have pain when they wake have knee pain, hip pain, toe pain, or ankle pain and they will be manifesting pain in the part that didn’t stop moving last night so it never got repaired. And the reason we say, “I have a bad knee,” is because that high school injury 30 years ago shows up when the weather changes, when you don’t sleep well, when you’re doing too much, and when you cheat. What you’re really doing is cheating a repair. That piece that was injured in your body actually needs more repair every night.

There’s an actual mechanism for that to happen. What happened to me was I saw these patients come back when I was treating their headaches with a CPAP device and say, “You know what? My back pain’s gone.” I would go, “Whoa, that’s so weird. We’re blowing air up in the head. So I was still thinking about oxygen and the brain. Why would their back get better? And then I really started thinking about it differently. I would go, “Oh, did she have any leg movements?” Because I really had a very limited palette to choose from. I had these machines. I had sleeping pills. I had medicines that I thought affected our leg movements during sleep. So, I would throw these medicines in there, and they usually wouldn’t work, and then I would be stuck with, “This gal’s knees didn’t get better. Why is it usually below the waist? Why are these movements usually of the legs?”

Then I actually looked into the neurochemistry of that and it turns out there are these walking centers in the same location. They are very, very primitive walking centers that may actually not be repressed correctly during sleep. That there may be a specific reason why the leg movements were there at the end. The second piece was, “Why would an 8-year-old have more than one Sleep Disorder? Why would they stop breathing and why would they move their legs? What if these guys paralyzed us? That means they have to be able to bring us back. They have to be able to turn the muscles on again. They have a little wire that turns the muscle on. That means, if they’re kind of shaking back and forth and they’re not doing cruise control, exactly paralyzed, they’re not paralyzed enough, or they’re a little bit too paralyzed. You could actually form both problems. If you get too paralyzed, your limbs don’t lose, but your airway does.

This part then becomes too paralyzed, the airway is no longer open, and that kid, while I’m looking in their throat, looking for tonsils, and there aren’t any, can still have Apnea because this becomes too paralyzed only in Deep Sleep. But as soon as we take away his Deep Sleep, he doesn’t grow, he doesn’t develop his brain, he doesn’t sexually develop, and he doesn’t make the Neurotransmitters that make him able to pay attention during the day. So, the effect of stealing the ability to get paralyzed correctly has a huge downstream effect on all of the things that happen to that child afterward. It could be one place affecting both, and I’m thinking that for two or three years. I’m making up these stories so I could tell my patients why it’s important to them. I can manipulate it with drugs, but there aren’t any drugs that give back REM.

Once I stumbled onto the fact that these particular receptors have Vitamin D receptors, I thought, “Wow, I didn’t use sunscreen in medical school. We didn’t have air conditioning in common use.” When I was growing up, I played outside. As soon as air conditioning comes, this puts it right in the middle to late 1970s to 1980s, and as I get out of medical school, we start to get reports about Sleep Apnea, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue. 

That’s the very beginning in the early ’80s. So, there’s a timeline where those are starting to appear. Then I think, “What about Irritable Bowel? We didn’t learn about that in medical school, it didn’t exist. Celiac Disease did not exist as an epidemic when I was in medical school. We’ve learned about it, but it was rare.

Mike: What about MS? That’s another disease correlated with Vitamin D as well.

Stasha: MS is a Vitamin D Deficiency Disorder, however, there’s a very important piece which is, once you replace Vitamin D, the body changes slowly from a Vitamin D deficient body to a B deficient body. Vitamin D is a major player in MS, and that was the very first neurologic illness where Vitamin D was described. But what I saw was, as you get the Vitamin D perfect and their sleep gets better, two years later, their sleep goes bad again and they start to have burning in their feet, gait disorder, urinate on themselves, and they have specific things that start to show up in the second and third year that we would have told them, in fact, we have told them is MS. It’s not. It’s a B Vitamin Deficiency State. That means D runs the microbiome, and it was attached to the microbiome or we survived better if it was attached to the microbiome because what you’ve taught everybody is: who lives in your gut determines where you put the calories you eat.

You can have the wrong microbiome, eat a thousand calories a day, and still gain weight. That was a huge survival advantage. In any species that can actually go through six months of no food, they can put on fat before and then lie in the ground for six months. They can hibernate. They run the Thyroid hormone down so the metabolism throughout the whole body is reduced. Mysteriously, they’re able to run their body for six months in the ground. That means they don’t eat. If the B Vitamins are all water-soluble and we pee them out every day, which is not completely true, that has to mean there was a source because every single thing we do in every cell is linked to the B Vitamins.

There’s already literature suggesting the microbiome in the bear eats the colonic mucus the bear creates. That small colony makes all the B Vitamins and allows the bear to have all its metabolic needs matched for the six months while it’s in the ground. Is it possible the B Vitamins are actually playing a role here? 

What happened to my patients was, as I got them to sleep better, I want them to make repairs. Those repairs are the things that make us feel better. So physical repairs mean we don’t have pain. Mental repairs mean we don’t have headaches and we can think normally. All of those repairs are linked to the B Vitamins. At the end of the second year, my patients started to deteriorate again. Their sleep went bad, the headaches came back, the pain came back, and three things importantly were still there after really good management of the D. Pain was terrible and increasing. There were many kinds: arthritic pain, muscle pain, and back pain. Their IBS was no better, and I was really depressed by that because I was still taking probiotics, and they’re all still taking probiotics, and we’re trading stories about probiotics. And they didn’t lose weight. They were exercising more because they felt better. They were clearly very inspired by the fact that they slept better, but they didn’t lose weight. Then I had a couple of patients who also had really scary things that I couldn’t explain to young women with burning in their hands and feet that occurred within about a month of each other, and they didn’t have anything else in common, except they were both taking my Vitamin D.

One of my patients brought me a book about a B Vitamin called Pantothenic Acid, and even though I was not very knowledgeable about vitamins, I eventually read that book. The book’s references described that Pantothenic Acid is pivotal in sleep. So that’s why she brought it to me. So B12, I’m already supplementing. We know that B12 plays a big role in sleep; there’s good literature about that. So I’m already treating the two gals with the burning, they were on B12. They had good B12 levels. So there was something else showing up, and this burning in their hands and feet is a very peculiar neuropathy. Neuropathy is my subspecialty, so that’s something that I’ve been practicing for 30 years. That did not walk in the door commonly. We see it all the time now, and we say it’s diabetes, but it’s not. These women did not have diabetes. Burning in the hands, it’s a very unusual thing.

The articles about Pantothenic Acid back in the ’50s, when they took Pantothenic Acid out of the diet showed that within two weeks, they developed burning in their hands and feet; gait disorder, couldn’t sleep, and belly discomfort. So, all of a sudden, I think, “Wow, could this be what’s happening to them?” Then the next question is, if they haven’t changed their diet, why have they changed to a B Deficient person? And why did it take two years? That’s very different than what we’ve been taught about the B Vitamins. Not knowing what else to do, I gave back large doses of B complex and the burning went away in two days.

The pain went away in two days. Now, there’s one other really important thing that happened. The book is referenced as a layperson treating other people with Rheumatoid Arthritis, trying to teach them. This is way back in the ’90s, when we were just beginning to use vitamins and nutrition, or it wasn’t as common that people were seeking that. They described that the dose for Pantothenic Acid was 400 mg. So I took 400 mg and I gave my patients the recommendation of 400 mg, but I also remembered that when you give one B Vitamin, you should give all of them. I didn’t know anything about them, so I gave out the recommendation to take B100 and 400 mg of Pantothenic Acid. Within about a week, many of the patients came back and said that they were agitated and couldn’t sleep at all, so they stopped the 400 mg, and just took B100. When they did that, they felt great. That means there’s a dose response, which is very upsetting because nobody knows what the right dose is. This is a vitamin that’s completely overlooked, but that means if you give too much, you’re gonna goof people up.

That had me very frightened. I started reading, and what I fell into was articles that say each one of these B Vitamins has an intestinal bacterial source and a food source. And after about the third time reading that article, I thought, “Well, wait a minute. This is where the bear gets that stuff. If our bacteria make these B Vitamins – I know their guts are a mess. IBS is all over the place – could it be that our B source is only from the gut? And as we goofed up the gut. That also implies that maybe we had stores. Maybe the articles about the Bs aren’t completely right. Could there be stores of these Bs? And two years of increased repair leads to a depletion of them and these new symptoms come forward?” I’m thinking that, but I don’t know if it’s true, and it takes me about four years of giving out different doses to finally put it together. There are several authors, one in particular who’s been very involved in Pantothenic Acid in the pumps that pump in Pantothenic Acid in the GI tract, who tentatively makes this statement, but won’t come out and say “The primary source is really from the GI tract.”

He’s getting braver in his articles, but he hasn’t come out and said that. So ultimately, I thought, “Well, if the bacteria were the original source, that means they know what the right dose is. So, then I don’t have to worry about it. If we can get the bugs to come back, they’re gonna make all the bacteria.” What I began to think about then was, why didn’t they come back? If these two epidemics of the GI tract with the sleep are in parallel, which they are completely documented to be in parallel, then the Vitamin D should have brought the bugs back. I know my patients have plenty of Vitamin D down in their intestinal tract now, yet the IBS is still there. What did those guys want? And is it really about supplying the right bacteria? Because we’re all taking probiotics. One of the articles that I stumbled into was a really good article out of The Economist that says if you go around the world and sample the bacteria of three-month-olds, you’ll see these four main species in outside-living, healthy, three-month-old humans. Those four species didn’t get in there because of probiotics. They’re not giving them probiotics.

That means they want to be there. They would get there spontaneously. In fact, the baby gets inoculated with the mom’s bacteria as he passes through the birth canal. Soon after that article was published, National Geographic has a cover story that says, “Kids delivered by C-section have a harder time colonizing.” Well, what if mom is Vitamin D deficient and she has the wrong colonies? That means she can only inoculate her baby with these wrong bacteria populations. And that same Economist article describes that you have to have these four happy and healthy to be able to dissolve specific glycans in mom’s milk. We don’t have the enzymes for that. That means those bacteria are responsible for making that baby happy with breast milk. If they don’t have the right bacteria, they get colicky with breast milk. How’s that gonna work? That means that baby actually dies. So there are survival advantages. Now, if they get in there spontaneously, could that mean we’re focusing on giving back the bacteria, when what we should be focusing on is making the environment specifically to encourage those species and not others? 

If those four guys make eight B Vitamins, maybe those four are down there, but there are piles of poop in between their buddies that used to provide the B Vitamin they needed. So, there was this hypothesis in my head. These four exist as a commensal foursome and they make B Vitamins, and they’re not making them for us, they’re making them for each other. They make the environment around them. They make this B Vitamin soup around them, and then we came onto this planet using their Bs. So the bacteria came way before us. Every multi-cell organism has poop inside that has these cultures of bacteria, and we don’t need to make the Bs because we have a constant source. So, now I think, “Oh no, I’m giving B100. I’m flooding the intestinal tract with these eight Bs. Is that gonna induce them to grow back?”

“I just had the bad experience of giving a dose that was too high. If they come back and they keep taking my pill, are they gonna notice that their pain comes back and their sleep falls apart?” And the fact was, it did. That’s what happened in three months. I missed my own instructions and actually went four and a half months on the B100, and wound up really stiff, couldn’t quite move, felt really old in the morning, and then finally put it together with one of my patients telling me, “You know, that B100 made me ache all over, and I took it to B50 and I didn’t ache all over,” and I thought, “Maybe my bacteria are back. Maybe I don’t want a double dose.” And you stop it, the pain goes away in a day. It’s bizarre, a really weird experience.

Mike: Once we get this microbiome, is it the phyla or these actual species that we’re talking about? 

Stasha: I can name them for you, but I’m not knowledgeable enough as a microbiologist to tell you about them. There are four general species: Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, and Bacteroidetes. And aside from knowing that those four always hang out together, I’m not that knowledgeable about the specifics. But the interesting thing is for all the stuff we know about the right bacteria protecting us from Autoimmune Diseases, there are many things we don’t know about what they do. That means what we really want, ultimately, is to get back to what the original survival advantage was. There are probably many chemical things that we’ll learn about them later. I mean things like Ghrelin and Leptin that we know now, and short-chain fatty acids – short-chain fatty acids are making me hungry for donuts. Those are all things that weren’t known 20 years ago. I bet there are many other things that we’ll find out about what roles the bacteria play, but for right now, what I personally want is to get that foursome back.

I don’t have data that was based on bacterial cultures. I have clinical observations that were based on several suppositions and clinical observations about pain and sleep disruption. So from my point of view, what I have to offer is a hypothesis that then needs to be proved in other ways using bacterial growth and actual colonic samples. So we have the framework in which to believe this could be true, but I personally don’t want to wait until they finally get around to that. So I’m making contact with other scientists to try to get these ideas in their heads so they start to design experiments that will prove it. But ultimately, if all you have to do is get your Vitamin D level up to above 40 and take B100 or B50 for three months, and you know the general idea, you can fix your own bacteria.

It would be nice in that we don’t have to wait another 10 years. That, and the impact of knowing that the microbiome plays a huge role in sleep. If you don’t fix it, the sleep falls apart. That means Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, and all the Sleep Disorders are not just one thing that went wrong. It’s the D plus these Bs. I suspect that there are other Bs like Pyridoxine that play a role in sleep but haven’t been reported yet. One of the things I always say in my literature is, “You always give all eight.” We don’t know what the doses are. We have certain sources, but we don’t really know how those doses came about. It’s very difficult to get to that literature. They’re all pretty arbitrary. Most people are concentrating on, “This B Vitamin does this.”

I think that’s the wrong concept. I think we need all eight always. No one has ever determined the doses or the ratios of those eight, and we really don’t even know whether it’s the colon or the small intestine. Almost everybody is concentrating on the colon. To enlarge this just slightly, the guy who wrote the articles about the colonic bacteria source and food source has spent most of his life studying the pumping and the absorption of vitamins. He’s been pivotal in describing the sodium-linked multivitamin transport system that pumps in three vitamins. It pumps in Pantothenic Acid, Alpha-lipoic Acid, and Biotin. The importance of that is if you know that and you take a huge dose of Biotin, you may actually worsen your sleep. And I’ve had a few headache patients who had their headaches come rushing back after they just started Biotin. So there are a few things about that detail.

The next piece is, what’s written in all the books right now is that Pantothenic Acid Deficiency doesn’t exist because it’s in every food. That’s not right, it turns out. That was an assumption made back in the ’80s. Someone, and I can’t find the literature, assumed that Coenzyme A, which is in every single food, is the same as Pantothenic Acid, but it takes five enzymatic steps to go from Coenzyme A to Pantothenic Acid. And Pantothenic Acid is a very peculiar chiral molecule. It has a right-handed form and a left-handed form. Even the bacteria, all of biology, uses the right-handed form of Pantothenic Acid. None of them use the left-handed form. We have to have those five enzymes in order to take the Coenzyme A from our food and make the Pantothenic Acid that pump pumps in. That same pump that pumps it in at the GI tract, pumps it in our brain. It’s the same exact pump, yet it turns out that the only study done measured those enzymes in a rat, with a tube in the rat’s intestine, with an intact microbiome.

That means if we’ve really been using the microbiome to make that conversion all along, and we know that there are multiple species of bacteria that have those enzymes and make Pantothenic Acid, we know there are other species like Lactobacillus that use the Pantothenic Acid of these other species. If we flood our system with Lactobacillus, they compete with us for the little bit of Pantothenic Acid that the one or two or three little guys are still making. So there are implications that grow out of that. Ultimately, there are many assumptions that are wrong.

There are many assumptions about the B Vitamins that were generalized from B12. There are scientific articles that show that we have stores of Pantothenic Acid, stores of Vitamin C, and stores of Pyridoxine. That means we can run out of them over time. So lots of the ways we look at how we use the B Vitamins and that we throw them around with this level of freedom, I’ve actually seen some of my patients have terrible pain because of the B-complex they just started, and if you’re doing more than one thing, you won’t be able to know. Plus it’s usually something you’ve had in the past. So you had back pain, then you’ve done this, then you’ve done that, then you get fat, and then you’re not exercising. Then you go on this weight loss program and start exercising. You start this big B-complex, it turns out it’s causing your pain and there’s no way for you to tell.

Mike: Yeah, too many variables going on at the same time.

Stasha: Absolutely.

Mike: Really interesting. Are you familiar with James Adams? He’s at ASU, Arizona State University. He’s done a lot of research on Autism, and so he’s really looked at all the different B Vitamin Deficiencies. They found a lot of the Methylation-related B12 and Folate in individuals with high levels of Clostridia and so forth. So I remember hearing that for the first time, thinking, “Wow, this was a few years ago, really novel that there was a commensurate level of B Vitamin Deficiency correlated with symptoms in Autistic Spectrum Disordered children and are correlated with microbiome imbalances.

Stasha: And Vitamin D. So there’s a parallel literature about Autism and Vitamin D. What we’re really looking at is these are children who do not have enough time spent in Deep Sleep. The effects are varied because what the brain is doing is it has to triage every night. We don’t pop out, ready to go. We have to develop each part of our brain. So it’s my conclusion that if you shorten the amount of developmental time, the brain has to triage what it will develop. And based on the epidemic of Autism, I would say that social interaction has been left for last. It’s more likely that the individual will survive based on developing speech, math, and all the basics, but if you take out the social interaction, that individual will probably not mate and probably not produce offspring, but they’ll still be able to survive. But what I’ve seen in my patients is, you give back everything the brain needs, even at age 16, and you will see that the brain knows what was left off.

It keeps a record of every single thing it has not had time to do. And if you let that child sleep as much as the brain wants to, all of those deficiency states are given back everything they need, it fixes everything, That child’s social development catches up, their sexual development catches up, the area of sexual discontent or dysmorphism, where “I don’t feel like my body fits. What I feel about myself doesn’t fit my genitalia,” comes out of the same place, I think. You’re born with your genitalia, but the sexualization of your brain happens every night while you sleep. That means Endocrine Development of the brain is related to Estrogen levels that are secreted in your brain while you sleep. The things that we’ve seen happening, Autism and sexual feelings of not being right, have all increased around the same timeframe. So I think that the different reports of Autism from D, sleep, and B Vitamins, are all drawing together, and all you need to do is see how they connect, and you put that together, and then you can fix them.

Mike: So even things like homosexuality potentially, and things like that. We’re saying that because there’s an early life disorder within the sleep system, the nightly repair is not occurring as it should. So certain parts of the brain are not being watered, if you will, like they should be and so there may be no development that could potentially be…

Stasha: I want to distinguish between humans who pick a sexual partner, and I don’t feel I’m an expert in that area nor do I have any good ideas about it, but that’s a different feeling than feeling dysphoric about your sexuality. We know that sexualization of the brain happens slowly in the same developmental spheres that growth happens. For instance, there are people who are born with a Testosterone receptor that is unable to receive the message. Those people in development in utero, have testes and have an XY but they come out female because the actual body parts that are supposed to receive that input don’t have a Testosterone receptor.

However they are completely female, they act female, they otherwise are completely female, sexualized with Estrogen throughout, even though they’re XY. So you take that as one example and then you look at several other examples where the development of the body and the brain are actually somewhat separate. We do go through this big boost in the sexual hormones in puberty but we’re all being sexualized at two, three, four, or five years old. Anybody who’s raised a kid knows that boys and girls are different from the beginning and that isn’t from mom’s hormones affecting their brain, that’s from that child making hormones that affect how the brain looks at the world even at age one. So I have a hypothesis that Sexual Dysphoria is related to not having the proper time. And the reason that’s important is, if you change the genitalia of that person and they think that their Dysphoria is gonna completely go away, the Depression and Anxiety that comes with Sleep Deprivation are still there.

Instead, you may fix their genitalia, but you need to fix their sleep and pay attention to the fact that this occurred because they were not sleeping normally. And if you look at the growth curves of those kids, a lot of times their growth curves are limited as well, so that’s a much bigger picture. It’s like, what are we looking at in terms of the development? Could all of these things be different flavors of not developing correctly between age zero and 20? 

Mike: So, it’s a spectrum of sorts.

Stasha: I think so.

Mike: Very interesting. And so if we want to talk about the root cause resolution of that spectrum of neurologic aberrations, shall we say, it stems from poor quality sleep.

Stasha: Yes.

Mike: Or lack of…

Stasha: Not getting into the right phases. And unfortunately, most children do not report that they don’t sleep. You have to be really, really disordered not to sleep. Most of the time, the fallback for 90% of the kids I see, it’s that they can’t get out of bed in the morning. So, they’re D Deficient to an extent that what their brain was designed to do was to sleep 18 hours. When the D is that low, they’re supposed to be hibernating. So they have twice as many things to do as we do. We have to remember everything we did today. They have to do all that and grow and develop their brains. They have so much to do there. I don’t know what this chemical is, but there’s an additional chemical force that is keeping them asleep, that’s what bed-wetting is about. They’re asleep, but they’re not making anti-diuretic hormones, which means they’re not getting into Deep Sleep. Bed-wetting means they’re not getting into Deep Sleep. If they were in Deep Sleep, they would make anti-diuretic hormones, they would stop the production of urine and their bladder would be able to hold it.

Stasha: There are many things we see: leg movements, leg pain, sleep-walking, sleep talking, they’re all related to this but the more important impact is if that kid can’t get out of bed, the brain is really saying, “Go back to sleep. I was supposed to do three hours of REM. And we haven’t even gotten into it yet.” You’re cheating that child of their normal development, and that is something we can impact without doing blood tests, and without giving pills. All we have to do is tell the kids they can go outside more. All we have to do is impact what we tell people about putting sunscreen on their children. I have kids who are African-American and their parents are putting sunscreen on them. That’s crazy.

Mike: In Portland.

Stasha: Yeah. That means we have to adapt what we do with the sunscreen to the skin type of the child. So I don’t want my kids to have blood draws, I don’t want them to have to take pills, and I would like them to make all the Vitamin D they need every summer. And if I knew how to do that naturally from the sun, they cannot go too high by sun exposure. That means I take out all the dangers I see when I have to supplement. If you do that in the population before they develop a Sleep Disorder, then we never have to do any of this stuff. So if we can impact our children, their level of being able to learn and pay attention in class, and the development of Autism and our own self-view is linked to how well we do in school. All of these kids are affected by “I’m not normal.” If you could just put your kid in the pool more often and change that, and you had some parameters to measure.

The key is, if you can see a kid in September, who’s spent the entire summer outside, you go into his room at 6 AM, he’s awake, he’s got his lunch box, doesn’t have anything in it yet, but he’s got his lunch box, he’s got his clothes on, and he’s ready to go to Kindergarten. He’s not driving you crazy or climbing on the furniture. He’s calm, he’s happy, and he’s interested. That child just had a perfect night’s sleep. He woke up at 6 AM before you went in there. If your kid is not doing that, you can intervene just by putting them out in the sun more, just by using what you know. You don’t want them to burn, but you want them to make all the Vitamin D, and then once you see them in September, you don’t just say, “Oh, he’s all relaxed because it was the summer.” You think, “Oh, he made a bunch of Vitamin D.” Then February rolls around, and you can’t wake them up in the morning, then you think, “Oh maybe we need to give a little Vitamin D between February and May when he goes out in the sun again.” So you can do this in children in a very easy way. It’s not without its difficulties, but you can give a framework in which to do this with children that’s not about blood draws or pills. It’s really amazing.

Mike: That’s fantastic. What are the other symptoms? Morning fatigue and developmental delay, and things like that we talked about. But you know, sometimes you take a nap or whatever and you wake up with a twitch. Or sometimes I see my daughter – she’s five years old and she loves her sleep; so this is hitting on a personal level although she is outside a fair amount – sometimes I see her twitching and moving her arms and legs. What’s going on with that, for parents and people when that happens to them? 

Stasha: There are normal movements we all make, and we can watch our animals do this, too. We watch our dogs running when they’re asleep. Normal people, normal children, should make small movements and tiny vocalizations. They shouldn’t talk or scream. They shouldn’t walk or move so much they fall out of bed. Many of the bed partners of people who have Sleep Disorders say they kick, they move too much. There are subtle movements that are still, I believe, within the range of normal, but those subtle movements don’t wake the bed partner. They don’t goof up the bedclothes. And if you’re watching your child, you’ll see these little subtle movements. Anything bigger than that means the paralysis center is lacking what it needs to get perfectly paralyzed. That can be either D or it can be Pantothenic Acid. Both of them make Acetylcholine. Pantothenic Acid is the raw material to make Coenzyme A. Coenzyme A makes Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is the primary player in getting us paralyzed. Vitamin D expresses the enzyme that makes Acetylcholine. So, those two chemicals actually work together.

Stasha: The other thing that you’ll see is, if they get too paralyzed, they snore. I mentioned Weston Price earlier. Weston Price was the first dentist to give beautiful, actual living videos of primitive populations, before and after, the incursion of western culture. His summary was that their palate, which was not normally formed once the western lifestyle came in, was related to nutrition. What he showed was the palate becomes narrower and the teeth become irregular. There were also changes in dental caries, so the actual health of their teeth was different. It’s not that he’s wrong completely. It’s that we now know that the shape of the upper part of the mouth and the jaw are both determined by sleeping. Deep Sleep. The tongue is sending all sorts of sensory messages to the brain, so as the face grows, there is a message telling both sides of the face to grow at the same time.

If you take away the tongue’s ability to do that because the kid has to open their mouth to breathe, the child becomes D Deficient and gets a runny nose. They get increased allergies, and they’re not able to breathe through their nose. They’re what’s called Obligate Mouth Breathers. Obligate Mouth Breathers have a different formation of their lower face over time. Because they’re sleeping with their mouth open, the tongue can’t give the input back and they get a retrognathic, less-developed, jaw and a narrower palate, and their teeth grow in the same way. The teeth don’t know and then they get crooked. The dentists who are dealing with those kids now are fascinated by the fact that they can move the palate. Now what they’re doing, instead of removing the teeth, is they’re widening the upper palate with the idea that they’re opening the airway. That has limited applicability. If the kid is still an Obligate Mouth Breather, there’s still a problem. That’s why Dr. Burhenne wants them to tape the mouth.

But there is a root cause in the background. The reason the kid is breathing through their mouth is that their nose is all stuffed up. Their nose is all stuffed up because D and Bs affect the allergies so much, and they affect the development of the inside of the nose and nasal secretion. If you fix the palate, yes, you make the face better, but you haven’t really answered why are they breathing through their mouth? So, if you fix the root cause and move the palate, then you’ve just given this kid a permanent fix. It’s great. The thing Weston Price missed, I believe, is the original western intrusion into these tropical cultures brought not only a difference in food, but they brought the shame of nakedness.

What you see happening is tropical cultures start to put on clothing, because the people that come from a different climate are used to wearing clothing and tell them it’s shameful. You see these movies about the Hawaiian culture as they moved into leprosy and the Catholic church is there. There’s this beautiful movie about Father Damien. What you see in that movie is there are these Hawaiian girls with black dresses on. They go from their neck to their ankles, and they’re swimming in them, they’re in the water. So the Vitamin D production in the skin goes down. You take somebody who is bare from the waist up and is only wearing something around their genitalia and you change them. They’re all dark-skinned, and their skin is perfectly suited so they won’t make too much Vitamin D but you’ve just taken away their Vitamin D source. So he’s showing the things we now know or have to do with Obligate Mouth Breathing in primitive populations in the 1930s.

But I think the piece he missed is not just the food, it really is the amount of sun exposure at the same time. And that’s my hypothesis, I have no proof of that, but I think it fits together nicely with what we’re seeing now. All these people that aren’t changing what they wear in Western populations have changed their Vitamin D exposure, their teeth are getting crooked and their actual dentition is decaying. So the typical idea of middle America is obese with terrible dentition, that’s all related to Vitamin D exposure. That’s a population that’s living inside in air conditioning all day long, never going outside, never playing outside.

Mike: It’s a really interesting perspective. I think a lot of people, when they think of Weston A. Price, think of sugar, “Oh, it’s just too much sugar and that’s what caused it.” But there’s got to be more to the mechanism there, and so I like your overall nutrient depletion possibly, and the Vitamin D Deficiency…

Stasha: Plus the microbiome of the mouth.

Mike: Yes.

Stasha: The dental literature is now moving toward the microbiome of the mouth as what determines dental carries. If you bring the microbiome and they need Vitamin D too, I don’t know that as a fact, but I do know that the microbiome of the mouth is still part of the GI tract, that means if the microbiome or the mouth goes bad, your likelihood of dental carries and all your teeth falling out goes way up.

Mike: Wow, that’s really key.

Stasha: That also has to do with why old people lose their teeth, they don’t just wear out. If there are people who have all their teeth at age 90, then why is this person losing their teeth at age 60? I’ve had a few patients who have become profoundly D Deficient, who over a one-year span begin to lose all their teeth. It’s not because they’re not brushing their teeth, it is absolutely related to this cascade of D, then the microbiome, then they don’t even have the trophic factors that keep the teeth growing and they just fall out. We saw that happening as part of what we thought was normal in an 85-year-old. We just don’t expect to see it in a 45-year-old, but there’s a mechanism for it.

Mike: This is fascinating. We can go on all day, I think. But I think an important point everyone listening should be familiar with, is this Obligate Mouth Breather. I think it’s really important for people to understand. And by the way, just as a side conversation, Dr. Burhenne has been just amazing. He’s been on the podcast twice.

Stasha: He’s really great.

Mike: He’s a good influencer. He taught me this mouth-breathing tip, and I’ve been doing it for myself and the experience benefited me and then my wife, and then our daughter, who was four at the time. I took a picture and put it on Instagram, and then it was the most controversial thing I’ve ever…

Stasha: You put tape over your kid’s mouth? 

Mike: Yes, but she loves it. So, interestingly, you were talking about moving… It goes back full circle, and I wanted to bring this up anyhow, a little movement is okay but too much while sleeping is not good. She would sleep with us periodically and we would wake up with her in the middle of Dianna and me, upside down. It’s like, “How did this even happen? What is going on here?” So after doing the mouth tape, she moves a little bit, but none of this 360 tumbles. A lot of parents jumped in and said, “What if she vomits while she’s sleeping?” I’m like, “Well, she’s sleeping with us, we would hear it right?” But as a neurologist, just curious now, how common is vomiting while you’re sleeping, in children? 

Stahsa: I don’t know the answer to that. As soon as you said that, I thought, “Oh my gosh, they’re gonna get all excited about that.” Ultimately though,  we need to step back and ask why we have to tape the mouth shut and explore the root cause that led to not keeping the mouth closed. There’s a whole body of literature in dentistry about babies that are able to breastfeed. What’s different about being able to get milk from a bottle is that you don’t actually have to make a seal, you can just lift the bottle up. That means that babies who are not able to breastfeed can’t breathe through their noses. What their literature says is if you have an Obligate Mouth Breather, they actually don’t develop their nasal passages the way they should. If you enlarge the palate, what you’ve actually done is enlarged the base of the nasal passages. All of a sudden, the nasal passages become more open also. So not only are they Obligate Mouth Breathers, but they have a smaller opening to breathe through their nose and you can fix it by that, and you can fix it by this as well. But you’d still like to not have to do that.

Mike: Right. Interesting. So we just have a few minutes left and some personal questions I’d love to ask you, but before I forget, you got some great papers on your website for people who want to dive deeper. And if we could summarize just a little bit, so the Vitamin D Deficiencies affecting the brainstem, affecting sleep, and then that’s affecting the microbiome and so forth. Am I missing anything major? 

Stasha: I think the one piece I’ve hypothesized that isn’t proven yet, is I think that Vitamin D is trophic to the bacteria we’re supposed to have in our belly. No one’s asked that question. I thought because there was such a connection to the GI tract that the bacteria were just going to need Vitamin D. No one’s actually documented that, but what we talked about earlier was the fact that we know there are 100 species in the GI tract by their DNA footprint, but we’ve only grown 2% of them in a petri dish, and I suspect that’s because we never thought of giving Vitamin D as a trophic factor. I don’t know that to be true. It’s true that we have both epidemics coming as Vitamin D goes down. It’s also true that Vitamin D supplementation by itself did not bring the microbiome back and that has a really, really important impact.

As all the doctors start to replace Vitamin D and we’re giving low doses, let’s say you’re on 2000 a day, and your level is slowly climbing from its pitiful 22. Five years later, it finally climbs to 60 and you start to sleep a little bit better, you will not connect it to the Vitamin D supplementation you took. Then two years later, your D level is staying at 70 because it’s going up so slowly. All of a sudden, your repairs have meant that you became B Deficient and you start to have burning in your feet and pain all over, you would never attach it to that Vitamin D.

I was doing this in big enough doses with enough people over a shorter span of time that I could actually say, “I think this is something that I’m inducing in these people because I’m moving only one thing at a time.” That means the most important message is being B Deficient in Pantothenic Acid causes horrible pain. Pantothenic Acid not only makes Acetylcholine which allows us to get paralyzed in sleep, but it makes Cortisol. That means if you don’t have enough Pantothenic Acid, you don’t make Cortisol. What does that result in? Inflammatory markers are up all over the place. So one big problem is everybody who’s going to develop an Autoimmune Disease, the Cortisol is what tells the white blood cells to calm down. If you don’t have enough Cortisol over a 10-year span, all of a sudden you start to attack your own body. The second piece is you don’t have any Cortisol to move up and down in response to stress. So you really don’t have any reserve in that Cortisol system to help you. At the same time, you do not have enough Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine turns out to be the chemical that the Vagus Nerve uses. The Autonomic Nervous System is two intertwined reciprocal Nervous Systems. Fight/flight uses Adrenaline, and rest and digest uses Acetylcholine.

If I deplete your stores of Acetylcholine-making-vitamin, so you can’t make Acetylcholine, what are you left with? You’re left with someone who’s in fight/flight all the time. I can still show that my 28-year-old with daily headache is sitting on my examining table with a resting heart rate of 110. She’s thin, exercises all the time, feels like crap, doesn’t sleep, and her entire Autonomic Nervous System is goofed up. Her GI tract doesn’t work and she feels anxious all the time because her Adrenaline level is too high. If you go back into these Heart Rate Variability studies, what they’re measuring throughout all the populations who have Sleep Disorders, is that the Sympathetic is dominant and the Parasympathetic is way too low.

I don’t have any proof that Pantothenic Acid is the cause, but I do have beautiful recordings of the fact that the Sympathetic is way out of line, compared to the Parasympathetic, in Postpartum Depression, Depression, PTSD, and in hundreds of other diseases. There’s literature that documents that the Autonomic Nervous System is not working right in all these diseases. I suspect, that as we give more and more D throughout the population, you’re gonna see this worsening because we’ve missed this piece, which is pretty simple: Get the bugs back. The Autonomic Nervous System now has its supply to feed back to the Vagus, to make it work.

Mike: Because the bugs are helping with the Acetylcholine synthesis…

Stasha: Exactly. The bugs are, I think, the only source of Pantothenic Acid in our bodies. In anything that we eat, there is no Pantothenic Acid. It is only from the bugs, and I think that the bacteria make an hourly or a minute-by-minute supply. If you look at the textbooks about sleep, it says Acetylcholine manages our level of alertness during the day and our Deep Sleep at night. The same exact chemical makes us alert, and able to direct our attention. You flip a switch, that’s so different than the way we think about what makes us sleepy. The same exact chemical makes us able to get in and out of Slow-wave Sleep and REM sleep.

Mike: Wow. This is really fascinating stuff. I want to highlight a few things you said in that last segment. I think they’re eloquently spoken and people need to appreciate the healthy properties of Cortisol. You mentioned that Cortisol is Anti-inflammatory. And we can demonize Cortisol and talk about Adrenal Fatigue, and excessive Cortisol promoting weight gain. But I love how there’s a U-shaped curve for all these different things.

Stasha: Yes. Absolutely.

Mike: We need some Cortisol. It gets us out of bed in the morning and helps energize us. That’s important. And there’s this interesting emerging Anti-inflammatory Reflex Arc, called the Cholinergic Anti-inflammatory Reflex Arc, needed from the brain via that person’s Nervous System, through the spleen, and it’s all Acetylcholine-driven. So, so many people are inflamed and have all these things we’ve been talking about. We’re just bringing back full circle what we’ve been saying. This Pantothenic Acid… Acetylcholine helps us stay alert, helps us go to sleep, and it’s involved in both Anti-inflammatory pathways, from two different mechanisms. I think it’s really, really fascinating.

Stasha: If you put an oral appliance in a person’s mouth, you can measure that their heart variability changes in a minute. The Sensory System of the back of the palate is the Glossopharyngeal Nerve that goes directly to the Vagus. It’s part of the system that, as you roll over and put your face into a pillow, your brain has to have a way to know that the pressure is building up. And that Sensory System inside your mouth then changes your position and makes you able to breathe again. So there’s part of that Sensory System that goes directly to the Vagus, which then changes your level of sleep, and does a bunch of other things. But oddly enough, what we’re seeing now is, we’re using more and more of these techniques that have been designed to up the Vagus output. That’s why meditation makes us feel better. It decreases our Anxiety. It actually changes. We’re using things like breathing to tell our Nervous System, “Gee, I don’t have enough of the Parasympathetic.” We’re using these methods that are very old, but the reason they’re in such increasing use is that we’re depleted. What’s going to happen eventually is, if I tell the Vagus to give more and more output and it runs out of its raw material, it’s going to fail.

Mike: I think that’s really important because so many people are not eating right, but they think, “Oh, I meditate, or I do yoga, so I’m cool. I don’t need to worry about the food, or whatever.” So, it’s really, really important you highlighted that. If someone responds really well to meditation or Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback, that might be a signal to say, “Oh, maybe I do have this Vitamin D, Pantothenic Deficiency going on.” Because their level of Autonomic Tone could be imbalanced.

Stasha: I think the important part is if you’re healthy and you have no complaints, and you feel good every morning when you wake up, and you have enough energy at the end of the day, that even though you work all day, you go out and you exercise, then you really don’t need to mess with this. But that’s probably 10% of the US population, you know? 

Mike: Yeah.

Stasha: That also means that you still have to be cautious. Once you fix all of this, if you take large doses of B Vitamins, when your bacteria are back, you can get terrible Arthritic pain from it. I have friends and clients, that I’ve had to spend my time convincing them that, yes, you’re right. This B100 you’re taking twice a day, that you’ve been taking for four years… It did fix you. You’re right. It’s not that your Naturopath is wrong. The Vitamin D that you’re on… You just walked into my office with burning and terrible headaches, and you can’t sleep. And that’s why you went to the Naturopath four years ago. In the midst of getting better, we didn’t realize that your Vitamin D is now exactly where it needs to be. Your bugs came back, and now you’re really on 300 of B, and you’ve gone through the phase where you needed more.

And it takes a lot of work to convince them to come off the B100. The only good part is, when you stop it, the pain goes away in two days. If that is making you not get paralyzed correctly and your pain in your muscles or your joint is because you’re doing these weird things during your sleep, it goes away very fast. As long as your D-level’s in the right place, you take away that source, the Bs are really active within the day or the day after, you take them. You can move them around and say, “Oh, I feel better, I feel worse.” And it will tell you, the only important thing to know is… Too much and too little both do the same thing. That makes it a little bit hard.

Mike: So that’s where the clinical practitioner getting the labs is key? 

Stasha: Yes. The one comment I would make is, we can get a Pantothenic Acid laboratory result. We can get a blood level of Pantothenic Acid. Unfortunately, it’s very parallel to the Magnesium level. It tells you what’s in the blood, but it does not address the stores. That means we really need a better way of measuring Pantothenic Acid stores. So there are a couple of articles that talk about dosing as an experiment… Dosing people with very large doses and very small doses, measuring the blood level and the urinary excretion. As you dose really high, the blood level doesn’t change, but the urinary excretion goes up.

Stasha: There are ways to trace that. Those experiments are from the late ’70s or early ’80s, but that is why the group suggested that there were stores. There’s a delay in what the body does with it, and I suspect that’s probably the case for Pantothenic Acid and Pyridoxine. And those two chemicals overlap an awful lot. So there are still some things we don’t know about using the individual Bs and using the blood tests for them.

Mike: Interesting.

Stasha: Pyridoxine is interesting because it’s one of the few Bs that has a reputation. There are articles that suggest, if you increase the dose, you can cause burning in the hands and feet. So, there was a Neuropathy associated with large dose Pyridoxine. I think that those two, B5 and B6, behave somewhat similarly, in that, there’s a dose range where it wants it every day, at this little, tiny dose range. There’s one other concept, which is when I saw my patients, as we stopped the B100 at three months. If you stay with them another six months and if you sleep better, the brain appears to remember all the deferred repairs. Patients who had Lupus, who had been sick for 20 years, ended up needing bigger doses of Bs than I did. I wasn’t very sick. I needed slightly more. It’s almost as though the brain says, “You know, I’m doing so well, I’d like to do three and a half hours of REM because I have all these… ” It appears to remember everything. That takes you one step further to say, “Gee, if there are stem cells in the pancreas, the brain, and the kidney, they weren’t put there so humans can find them.”

They were put there because given the right setting, and keep in mind that every time you make something in your body, it has to be tightly supervised. There has to be somebody saying, “Okay, you made two Beta… You made two pancreas islet cells, make five of them, but don’t make 250,000 of them.” Growth, using a stem cell, is very dangerous. If it gets loosed, it can take over the whole body. That means there must be stages of sleep where you can actually repair the body and remake things that have been injured, but you must get into this very specific phase for all the pieces to be in place to do that. That means we are completely self-healing, and that we have the opportunity to reverse really terrible things, but you do that by sleeping the right amount. And some people, they ended up, after correcting their intestinal bacteria, they ended up needing more Bs. But only if they were sleeping better. My theory was they were actually making more repairs, they, therefore, needed slightly more Bs, they needed more than what these guys make naturally.

If these guys only make the basal amount we need, and you need more because I’m encouraging your brain to sleep even better by keeping the D perfect, you might need slightly more. And the only way I could figure to judge that was by their pain.

Mike: Like you mentioned, the Autoimmune Disease, maybe cancer, whatever, Osteoarthritis, once they’re getting the good sleep, their brain’s like, “Alright, well, we gotta take advantage of this repair,” so they’re cranking up more Bs. That’s a really good closing segment here. I think it’s brilliant. So we got a lot of papers that are published on your website. The one in medical hypotheses I think is brilliant. I don’t know how you got that title approved because it’s very functional medicine-oriented.

Stasha: I don’t either, but I’m really glad. It took me a lot of work to get it into one article.

Mike: That’s awesome. So we’ll talk a little bit more about that, we have four final questions we ask every guest on this show. The first question would be about your morning routine. So you’re a practicing Neurologist, you don’t really see patients as much anymore, as I understand, but you’re in Portland, Oregon. What does the first couple hours of your day look like? 

Stasha: I get out of bed and think to myself, “How was my sleep and do I have any pain anywhere?” And recently, I hurt my back, so I’m thinking, “Oh, I can’t exercise yet today,” which makes me sad because I really like to exercise. And then I have a cup of coffee, and I start working, which is usually on the internet now.

Mike: Doing research? 

Stasha: I’m actually starting my business, which is to try to teach other clinicians about this. My goal now is to get this in wider use. It’s so simple, it’s so easy, and it could make such a huge impact and it’s really about training in a deficiency state. That to me was like, “Oh, if we’re not sleeping right, because there’s something lacking, why don’t we just replace that first?”

Mike: So, in Portland, there’s a lot of great coffee. What type of coffee is it? Is it French press?

Stasha: We grind our own coffee and put it in a little filter and make one cup with it. So I have a fabulous cup of coffee with heavy cream in the morning. We haven’t talked about this, but I believe the ketogenic diet and the move towards meat, vegetables, and less in the way of carbs are as important as what I just told you. I really think the ketogenic diet is one of the things that makes people live longer. And getting back into normal sleep, the reason for that, what repairs us is also being ketogenic during that phase, that we’re probably designed to go into ketosis for at least 12 hours every night while we’re doing this. So, I think that’s probably equally important. I think we won’t see the kind of repair that I’d like to see… And my sleep is still not perfect so I’m still exploring. I still have Restless Legs. One of the reasons I’m in this field is, if I don’t take my medicine, which really irks me that I can’t go to sleep without my medicine, I have Restless Legs.

Stasha: I’m taking iron now and I go to the sleep meetings and try to figure out what kind of Restless Legs I have. But I have a Sleep Disorder too, and I still think that after accomplishing all I’ve done, I think there will be personal places where we can intervene and fine-tune. I think that’s what Naturopaths have already developed. I think once they put this piece in there, then they’ll begin to see full cures, with the details of what they’ve worked out around it. I’m really excited about that.

Mike: Just curious about the ketogenic diet, what component or element or metabolic pathways, in brief, synergistically operate here to enhance sleep or that you’re particularly excited about? 

Stasha: Stop me if it gets too detailed, but the Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle…

Mike: The Krebs Cycle.

Stasha: The Krebs Cycle is a cycle that, and I’m not the expert in this, actually takes a four-carbon piece, becomes a six-carbon piece, and goes back to a four-carbon piece. That is the cycle that is used in short-chain fatty acids and it’s used in terms of making energy, it’s used when you’re using your fats as the supply. There’s a new theory now that that cycle actually has a different purpose. It’s really not about making ATP. That’s the part that we’ve concentrated on. It’s really about making water molecules that didn’t come from water. So, when you drink water, it has a certain amount of Deuterium in it. That cycle makes water that doesn’t have Deuterium in it. So there’s a going theory now, that what we’re doing with ketosis, is we’re preferentially using this particular cycle that has a dramatic effect on how well our Mitochondria act. And I don’t know the details enough to make it intelligent, but that’s where I think the ketogenic part is going to make the impact. I think that piece is just as important. So that’s kind of in the area that I’m going to be educating myself as time goes by.

Mike: In that final stage of the electron transport chain, the water that’s created is molecularly different than the water we drink.

Stasha: Yes.

Mike: Wow.

Stasha: We probably age, based on the percentage of our water that is a Deuterium molecule. It looks exactly the same. It’s two hydrogens and an oxygen, but one of those hydrogens, or sometimes two of those hydrogens, actually has a neutron. That means it’s not the same size. That hydrogen, when you break it off… And there is this very complex system of allowing hydrogen to be in a different concentration outside the Mitochondria and inside the Mitochondria, so the water that’s in the Mitochondria never passes across as a water molecule. What happens is, hydrogen breaks off, goes through a little pump, another hydrogen comes in, and then it makes the water inside, always with hydrogen that doesn’t have Deuterium in it. Every time a Deuterium molecule hits that little pump, that’s called the ATP Synthase Nanomotor, it screws up the pump. It gets stuck in the hole. That pump has to stop working. You have to take out that piece and replace it.

That means all the metabolic demand, everything shuts down in that pump. You have to regenerate that piece. They were actually able to correlate the amount of expression of the genes that make the proteins, that make the Nanomotor are directly related to how much Deuterium there is. That means our aging is linked to the aging of our Mitochondria. All the stuff you did with the Telomeres, just recently, that’s linked to this, in some way. That is a newly developing set of ideas, but it’s heavily linked to the idea that there’s a reason people live longer when they fast. It’s not just about eating less. It’s really about what you eat. So the whole movement towards meat, fat, and vegetables, as getting ketotic, turns out to be extremely important. And you can do that several ways, but getting ketotic every night is key. What I’m doing personally, is I might eat breakfast and lunch, but I’ll miss dinner. I really try to make sure that I might be ketotic for 12 hours a day. I may not accomplish that, but I think that may turn out to have a different effect on the sleep. That’s the part I’m kind of exploring in my own body now.

Mike: Wow, really, really fascinating. So, we’re diving into the molecular biology of the cell, which is complex for some people. But I think it’s where this is all going. The knowledge is moving so quickly. So, going back to the final questions… if you were stranded on a desert island, there’s one herb, nutrient, botanical whole food substance that you have to bring… You have to bring it with you because you love it so much. What is that and why? 

Stasha: If I’m on a desert island, I probably don’t need my Vitamin D.

Mike: Don’t need Vitamin D. So, maybe B Complex… What? 

Stasha: I take very little now. I still take B12. I never did my level, because I really didn’t think any of this stuff applied to me when I was starting. Then I realized, “Oh, I have all the same things all my patients do.” So, I still take B12. I still take D. I probably would take my Vitamin D with me, because I’m probably not making very much Vitamin D, even though I’m a sun-worshipper and I do use sunscreen, I notice that in the summer, my Vitamin D requirement is very similar. Even if I lie out in the sun. That worries me because that means I’ve reached the point where I’m not making very much Vitamin D on my skin. I’m going around that by taking it orally. But that’s still an important message, that still might be related to this Deuterium.

Mike: So, final question: If you were in the elevator with a politician or someone from the World Health Organization and they said, “Dr. Stasha, what sort of lifestyle health tip would you want me to know about, that maybe I can share to influence a large number of people?” What sort of big-picture policy or something, would you share with them? 

Stasha: I would especially talk about our children because as I told you earlier, we can have an impact on all children, but especially in children of color, because if they don’t go outside, they don’t actually make enough Vitamin D. All of us are affected, but those of color are more affected, and it affects the mood. It affects how you feel about yourself. It affects your ability to pay attention. That means everyone with a Vitamin D Deficiency who can’t sleep, cannot get educated. They are at a huge disadvantage in the schoolroom. If they don’t develop, they’re Autistic. Even if they do develop, they don’t have what they should have every night to remember what they were just taught. That puts all of our children at a huge disadvantage, and it could so easily be treated by saying sunscreen is really good, but you need to use it in a logical way.

Mike: Really powerful stuff. I have a lot of questions for you on that, but I really enjoy this conversation. You have some great PDFs and articles, and things like that. If folks want to connect with you online, and if practitioners want to learn more about what you’re doing, where can they find you? 

Stasha: I’m at

Mike: Brilliant.

Stasha: I really wanna teach other clinicians how to do this.

Mike: And so you have. You trademarked something.

Stasha: I trademarked RightSleep.

Mike: RightSleep.

Stasha: As a description of a set of ideas. So, one of the things we didn’t talk about is all the literature right now is suggesting that if you don’t sleep right, it’s your fault. When you type in, “I have Insomnia,” they tell you things like, you’re not doing it right.

Mike: Yeah.

Stasha: You don’t do this right. You don’t do that right. Everything about you is bad. And many people will not talk about Insomnia with their doctor or with other clinicians, because they feel like there’s something wrong with them. And they’re responsible for that. Yes, there’s something wrong with them. There’s something chemically wrong with them. Their brain is not functioning normally, and you can fix it. So, there is a whole bunch of ideas that I want to get out to people that say, “It’s not your fault.”

That’s really important because when someone comes to me and I say, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you. I can’t fix you. And by the way, it’s your fault, anyway.” That really doesn’t serve that problem and it doesn’t serve that person. It makes them feel bad. Sleeping is the right thing to do. If you have to sleep during the day, then you sleep during the day. And until we fix the chemistry, your brain is only sleeping during the day. If you sleep long enough during the day, slowly your brain will move around to sleeping at night. I would never have known that, except my patients were willing to come back and try this stuff, and they wound up sleeping at night again, even though they’d been sleeping during the day for the last 20 years. So there is a lot about the dogma surrounding sleep I’d like to dispel. And I wanna show the public, and the clinicians, how to do this. It’s pretty simple. You have to record things. You have to pay attention to what’s happening to your body, and the patient has to be committed to it, this is their body. They have to notice what’s going on in their body.

Mike: Sure. Brilliant. I really appreciate you coming on the show.