Vitamin K2 may help prevent cardiovascular disease by preventing and even decreasing calcium deposition into arteries, thus making arteries less stiff. GABA, which can be increased by the herb passionflower, may work to combat anxiety and aid in sleep.
Dr. R’s Fast Facts
Vitamin K Studies to Note:
- Assessing vitamin K status in prospective studies and well-designed randomized trials would provide important insight whether vitamin K is causally related to vascular calcification and cardiovascular disease.
- Vitamin K2 supplementation was associated with a 12% increase in maximal cardiac output
Difference between Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2
- K1 we get in leafy vegetables
- Completely different from K2
- K2 tells Calcium where to deposit
- It will also pick up calcium and take it where it’s supposed to go.
- Important for Cardiovascular Health
- We do not store K2
- Vital for structure of your face and jaw
K2 Food Sources
- Hard cheese
- Soft cheese
- Egg yolk
- Chicken liver
- Chicken breast
- Ground beef
Guidelines for dietary intake
- Eat liver once per week – organ meats
- Fat from any kind of wild meats
- Pastured eggs
- Cheese – good quality Gouda, Jarlsberg, or Edam are best
Highest risk population
- Anybody not eating “nose to tail” and saturated fats
- Anybody with conditions involving calcium or high blood pressure
- Dephosphorylated uncarboxylated matrix gla protein concentrations
Dosing for supplementation
- 50 mcg/day to 90 mcg/day
- Emu oil – richest source of natural MK4 in the world
Overdose & Side effects
- Very limited studies available
What is GABA?
- GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain.
- Low levels of GABA may be linked to: Anxiety or mood disorders
- Look for “Pharmagaba” when you go to buy Gaba supplements
- Do not buy a supplement that just says “GABA” in the ingredient list
- Sources – Passion flower, skullcap, chamomile, and california poppy
- Passion flower is the richest, natural source that helps the body utilize GABA
- Try 10 drops and assess how you are feeling. You can take up to 50-60 drops.
- The time for it to take effect depends on the form you take it in (capsule, drop, etc), tincture is the fastest
Passion Flower Studies
- Get help using this information to become healthier.
- Get your personalized plan for optimizing your gut health with my new book.
- Healthcare providers looking to sharpen their clinical skills, check out the Future of Functional Medicine Review Clinical Newsletter.
Studies on Vitamin K… 00:03:00
Difference Between K1 and K2 … 00:05:00
Vitamin K2 and Calcium … 00:09:00
Dietary Sources … 00:11:00
Guidelines for Dietary Intake … 00:13:40
Lab Makers … 00:19:00
K2 Vital for Face Structure … 00:20:29
Highest Risk Population … 00:20:55
Dosing … 00:22:38
(click gray Topics bar above to expand and see full outline/time stamp)
GABA Supplementation and Rx … 00:26:25
GABA Studies & Dosing … 0032:30
How to Use Passion Flower … 00:36:00
Cell Phone Use … 00:43:37
Episode Wrap-Up … 00:49:45
Download Episode (Right click on link and ‘Save As’)
Studies on Vitamin K
- The Role of Vitamin K Status in Cardiovascular Health: Evidence from Observational and Clinical Studies.
(click green Links bar above to expand and see all links/references)
- Oral Consumption of Vitamin K2 for 8 Weeks Associated With Increased Maximal Cardiac Output During Exercise.
- Long-term use of MK-7 supplements improves arterial stiffness in healthy postmenopausal women, especially in women having a high arterial stiffness.
- An increase in dietary intake of vitamin K is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular, cancer, or all-cause mortality in a Mediterranean population at high cardiovascular disease risk.
- Six months of vitamin K2 supplementation did not improve markers of vascular health or physical function in older patients with vascular disease.
Passion Flower Studies
- Passiflora for anxiety disorder.
- Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam.
- Oral intake of purple passion fruit peel extract reduces pain and stiffness and improves physical function in adult patients with knee osteoarthritis.
- Efficacy and safety of a polyherbal sedative-hypnotic formulation NSF-3 in primary insomnia in comparison to zolpidem: a randomized controlled trial.
Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio. This is Dr. Ruscio. Today, I am here with Beverly Meyer. We’re going to talk about vitamin K2, maybe a little bit on GABA, and get into some side roads, I’m sure.
Beverly, welcome to the show.
Beverly Meyer: Thanks for having me on.
DrMR: Absolutely, absolutely. I’m excited to have this discussion especially about K2. But before we started recording, you were sharing some information about GABA that has also piqued my interest. So I’m definitely excited to jump in.
And I have a few studies I just pulled up before we got on the line here on vitamin K2 interventions. And there is not a lot, but there are a few. So I’d like to share those with the audience. But before I do that, tell people a little bit about you, your background, and how you got into the area of health that you are currently in.
BM: Well, I am 66 and I have been a client in complementary and alternative therapy since the early ‘70s. So whatever it is, I’ve been there, done that. That’s just the way this body is this time around. It takes a lot of work and, so, health issues.
But the thing that got me finding about GABA was when basically I just had unrelenting anxiety attacks that were of no particular cause. I would just be sitting and reading and they would take me over. And that’s how I ended up finding an extremely specialized neurologist who said, “You have no GABA in your brain.” And that’s where I learned about the GABA.
And then the K2 came about because I wanted to do some work about my own airway at night and reading, of course, Weston Price. And as an adult, can you do anything about expanding your jaws? And that’s how I got into the study about K2 and its amazing, ubiquitous role in the body. And we’ll talk about that.
DrMR: Got you. So let’s start with vitamin K2. And I pulled up just a few studies that I wanted to make the audience aware of. Because I haven’t actually done a PubMed search for interventional studies with vitamin K2 in, probably, about a year. So I wanted to kind of refresh what has been going on there.
Studies on Vitamin K
So just a few studies here. The first that I think is probably the most important was entitled, “The Role of Vitamin K2 Status in Cardiovascular Health: Evidence From Observational and Clinical Studies.” And I’ll just quote their conclusion here:
“Overall, observational studies indicate that low vitamin K status as measured by high dephosphorylated-uncarboxylated matrix Gla protein concentrations plays a role in cardiovascular disease development, particularly in high-risk and chronic kidney disease populations. Very few vitamin K interventional trials have been conducted with cardiovascular-related outcomes. A couple of intervention studies studied the effects of the combination of vitamin D plus K supplementation, which might have synergistic effects compared to vitamin K supplementation alone.”
So that was one study. There are a couple of other ones real quick here. We talked about one in our newsletter a few months ago, where vitamin K2 supplementation was associated with a whopping 12% increase in maximal cardiac outputs. That was pretty interesting.
Another study that concluded that long-term use of MK-7, which is one form of vitamin K2, improved arterial stiffness in healthy post-menopausal women. So that may be a part of the cardiovascular angle. Another study that concluded that an increase dietary intake of vitamin K is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular cancer and all-cause mortality in a Mediterranean population at high cardiovascular risk. And the final study, that concluded six months of vitamin K2 supplementation, did not improve markers of vascular health or physical function in older patients with vascular disease.
So we see a number of studies there. And the majority of them seem to show benefit. But, Beverly, to your point from before we started the recording, there is not a ton of research here.
Difference Between K1 and K2
So as we launch, and I guess, anything you want to add in response to the research? And then we can kind of go from there.
BM: Well, yes. But there are a couple of quick points I want to make first: The difference between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2.
And K1 we get in vegetables, green leafy vegetables. And it’s the one that has to do with the clotting of blood. And it’s completely different from K2. And so we have to be clear about that vitamin K, versus K1, versus K2. So let’s be clear about that.
Here is the reason why K2 is so important for cardiovascular. But, basically, anything that has to do with calcium, K2 is right there. And that’s because vitamin D carries calcium in the body, but it’s K2 that tells it where to deposit. So if you take vitamin D in cod-liver oil or vitamin D supplements or whatever you are doing with your vitamin D, your blood will pick up and hold some calcium but it won’t know where to take it.
So it will precipitate out into the arteries and veins. It will precipitate out into places you don’t want it to go: gallstones, kidney stones, bone spurs, arteries, all kinds of places calcium can go and you don’t want it. But it’s the K2 that says, “No, no, we don’t want it to go into this artery or this ankle. We would like to go over here and make some healthy new bone. And fix your teeth. And go to your brain. And work with nerve transmission and muscle response.”
So the way I think about it is with capital “K,” K carries calcium. That’s how I tell my clients is K carries calcium. And that’s why I call it the cradle-to-grave nutrient. Because mommies need it, the babies need it, teens need it, the old people need it. We need it everyday we don’t store vitamin K2 like we do all the other fat-soluble vitamins. And it is a fat-soluble vitamin, but we don’t store it like we do A, D, E, and F. So we have to have K2 every day.
And in our paleo/prehistoric whatever diet, our ancestral diet, we had, of course, saturated fats and animal organs and brains and all those things that we ate—the nose-to-tail of the animal. And then the fermented foods that we created by accident because, basically, they were rotten foods that were fermenting and rotting.
DrMR: Right. Shelf stable. Yeah.
BM: And those have been our sources of K2 from the beginning of time. And we don’t do those anymore.
And then as far as research, the best and only—well, there are some other little booklets—but The Calcium Paradox is a good book on vitamin K2. And she’s got plenty of studies—but it’s just a good readable source.
DrMR: It’s interesting that we don’t store it. I was under the impression that we have at least a limited capacity to store most fat-soluble vitamins. But I wasn’t aware and I had never directly looked to see if we were able to store vitamin K. But it’s interesting that we’re not able to store it.
BM: Well, it may be because we get so little K2 that we use it up immediately. I don’t know the answer to that. But I know there was a Japanese study years ago that gave immense doses of K2 to a small study of elderly women with osteoporosis. And it made a dramatic difference. So, I don’t know what that was all about.
Vitamin K2 and Calcium
So here’s the thing about K2 and calcium. Not only will it tell it where to deposit, like “Don’t fall out into this artery. I’d prefer that you go over here into this bone or nerve cell.” But it will pick up and take it from the artery or the bone spur, whatever, and take it somewhere else where it’s supposed to go.
That last study you mentioned, they didn’t find the alleviation of atherosclerosis in the elderly people that already had it. Or maybe they had it for 50 years and they were on too low a dose, I don’t know. But we do think we understand that it not only carries it where it needs to go, it will pick it up and then redeliver it to the right address.
DrMR: And you make another good point about—or at least hints at the concept of balance. And I think Weston A. Price, as you mentioned, was probably one of the pioneers who really brought to the forefront the importance of the fat-soluble vitamins and the balance of fat-soluble vitamins. Which is why when we give vitamin D at the clinic, we always co-administer it with a K2.
I’m not hard-driving on this but I do recommend my patients when they ask, “Well, I’m already on a vitamin D, do I need to be on the vitamin D with vitamin K2?” I’ll say, “It’s ideal for you to be on vitamin D plus the K2. You don’t necessarily need to throw out your current bottle but I’d like you to use the one that you currently have. And then as soon as you run out, switch, for that very reason of the balance of vitamin D and vitamin K.” And then there is also of course vitamin A, which is another vitamin that I think people are fairly deficient in.
But it does seem that there are some overlap between if you’re getting in dietary intake of K, you’re also going to get some vitamin A, and some of the top sources being nattō, hard cheese, soft cheese.
Is it “nato” or “nattō”?
BM: It’s nattō. But it’s the organ meats that reign supreme. And of course, Weston was the king of that. That it’s vitamin A, vitamin D, and then the mysterious activator X, which made A and D actually work, which is K2.
Unfortunately, over the years, he kind of left it. It got this reputation that, well, you take this high-vitamin butter oil and that’s all you need for your K2. But it’s not enough. And we’ve misinterpreted that as the easy way out when what we really need to be doing is the Pure Indian Foods ghee, because it’s a pastured spring grass-fed ghee, and the organ meats, and the wild pastured eggs, and then, of course, the really good, high-quality krauts and kimchis. But many of us are only doing maybe a teaspoon of that, and there’s maybe not enough in there.
So, ultimately, we get back to the ancestral eating. But in my clinic, the combo we sell in my online store and in the clinic is an A, a D3, and a K2. So they’re all in there together. And then the cod-liver oil, which has—the Rosita Cod Liver Oil has A and D, but it doesn’t have K2. That’s why from his work, you take the cod liver oil and you have to have a source of K2. We do a lot of emu oil, which is the richest natural source of MK4 form of K2, but it’s expensive. So some people do the synthetic MK7 and some people do the natural, emu oil.
And I have several podcasts and blog posts on my website about that emu oil. It’s so interesting. I never knew I would know so much about these heritage emus. The oil they produce is incredibly rich in MK4, along with apparently every nutrient known to the birds because it keeps them alive for 45 days while the males are on the nest. But anyway, that’s a little side story. People can check that out on my blog on diet and health. Just put “emu” in the search bar. It’s quite a fascinating topic because it’s not cosmetic emu oil. It’s very specific walk about emu oil from heritage birds.
DrMR: Interesting. While we’re on the topic, what do you advise in terms of, “Do this every week as a general rule and you’ll be at least covering your bases for the fat-soluble vitamins.”
Guidelines for Dietary Intake
Is there a certain guideline that you leave people with to try to get this from a dietary intake perspective?
BM: Well, my parents raised me to eat liver once a week. And I still think that’s a golden rule. That you need liver every week. But I still do the Pure Indian Foods ghee. I’ve eaten every ghee on the market I can find. And it is by far the best tasting. And some different lab work that I’ve done over the years taking that ghee, I have watched my butyrates go up and short-chained fatty acids.
So I do know there is K2 in the ghee. So yeah, the organs, the kraut, of course the pastured eggs, and the fats from any kind of wild meats that you can get. And if you’re still doing cheese, if you can get a good high-quality real gouda, or jarlsberg, or edam, apparently they do have some K2 in their little bacterial menu that they ferment along with.
DrMR: Now, let say you had a grass-fed, non-pasteurized cheddar. I know that’s one that they have at many Whole Foods. Sometimes these are challenging to get at Whole Foods, for example. But just thinking of ease of access for people, would that be in your opinion an adequate source or at least a decent source of K2?
BM: From what I have read, it’s gouda, edam, and jarlsberg. Those are the only three that will ferment and produce K2. So cheddar is not on that list.
DrMR: Got you. What about egg yolk? There should be a decent amount in there, unless I’m mistaken.
BM: Yes, there is a little in there. But again you have to put it in context of the ancestral diet. How many eggs were we eating every day versus, hopefully, how much nose-to-tail animal were we eating every day? They’re just not dozens of eggs lying around. So it’s definitely coming from the animals and the saturated animal fats. The pastured lard and the tallows, and all of that—the saturated animal fats from pastured critters. And nattō, if you can stand it. But I don’t know too many people that can.
DrMR: Hey, everyone. I just wanted to say thank you to Biocidin, who has helped make this podcast possible. If you’re not familiar with Biocidin, they have a quality line of products, including anti-microbials, a soil-based probiotic, and a gut detox formula, amongst other things.
And how I came to learn about Biocidin was actually after a few patients of mine—who had been reacting to all other forms of anti-microbials—went out, did some experimentation, and actually found the only anti-microbial formula that they did not negatively react to was Biocidin. So this got me to open my eyes and give them a further look.
And they have a few products I think are worth mentioning. One is their anti-microbial Biocidin, which comes in a few different forms. They also have Proflora®4R, which is one of the few soil-based probiotics that I recommend. And also they have Dentalcidin, which is their Biocidin in the toothpaste form. And this may actually help with the removal of oral biofilms.
Now, if you go to Biocidin.com and you use the code RUSCIO, they will give you free shipping and a free bottle of Dentalcidin when you purchase their comprehensive cleansing program. They do have wholesale pricing available for licensed healthcare practitioners if you email orders@Biocidin.com
So Biocidin definitely has some helpful products for improving your gut health. And I would definitely recommend checking out Biocidin for more information on a few of these tools that can help you in optimizing your gut health.
Okay, back to the show.
So if you’re using the Pure Indian Foods, ghee, maybe a few times a week to cook with or as an additive. If you’re getting in liver once a week, maybe some certain cheeses as you mentioned, do you think you’ll be getting a decent amount in from a dietary perpective?
BM: Yes. And I would still be taking that combination of A, D, and K2 supplement. Since we don’t store K2, we use it up. It’s like boom and it’s gone. It’s almost like a neurotransmitter in that way. You can’t test neurotransmitters because it’s lived and died, it’s gone. And apparently according to that one Japanese study with the massive overdose of K2, there is no upper limit. And every study I’ve seen on K2 pretty much says we don’t think there is an upper limit on this nutrient.
So I don’t think you can go wrong by continuing to supplement, especially if you’re going to keep taking vitamin D.
DrMR: Got you. And in that one paper, they mentioned a certain lab marker. Do you know of any good lab markers that people want to get in there and try to quantify their K2 status?
BM: I don’t. The one you mentioned is the only one I know of. My fallback is just assume that you’ve been deficient in it since the moment of your inception. Unless your parents were hunters and lived on wild meat and fermented rotting foods, that you’ve been deficient in K2 your entire life.
Here is the thing, it’s not just the veins and arteries and dental plaque. People have reported, “Wow, I don’t have to have my teeth cleaned so often. I don’t have that scummy plaque on my teeth.” But K2, the other big thing that it’s vital for and, of course, this is where Weston Price really made his point, is in your structure of your face and your jaws, your narrow chin, the narrow mouth, the crowded teeth that require extractions and braces. And of course the thousands of amazing photographs he took all over the world back in the ‘40s of people with great wonderful wide jaws that held all 32 adult teeth. How many people do you know now that have great wide jaws that hold all 32 adult teeth?
K2 Vital for Face Structure
And this is part of his studies back in the 1940s is that, my God, what is happening to our faces? The lower third of our faces are narrowing in and we’re having all these dental issues.
Anyway, I can talk about that for an hour. But that’s the point is that the kids have to have this on the breast, in their early food, all through their life. Again, it’s a cradle-to-grave nutrient.
Highest Risk Population
DrMR: Now, do you notice a particular population at the highest risk for deficiency? Or if there is not a population in particular, might there be certain conditions like those with cardiovascular disease or those with fatigue, anything—I’m assuming there is broad applicability. But anything that could make this a little bit more granular in terms of indicators that might say a particular person or subgroup would most favorably benefit from vitamin K2 ingestion or supplementation?
BM: No. Again, it’s anybody that’s not eating nose-to-tail and saturated fats. Anything to do with calcium, so osteoporosis. Dementia, we now think is part of its package is calcium and k2. Myelin sheath defects, varicose veins, but of course high blood pressure is a real clear one. That’s one that people are commonly diagnosed with as opposed to calcification in the arteries. High blood pressure is, basically, in my opinion, it’s not only that it’s measured wrong – I have a great blog post and podcast on my website about this. You’re taking your blood pressure wrong. You don’t have high blood pressure. What you have is stress and you didn’t relax when you took your blood pressure. And B, you have calcium in your arteries and you need to crank up your K2 and get that calcium out of there.
So that would be the easiest route for “diagnosis” is, have you been told you have high blood pressure?
DrMR: Okay. And regarding if one is using a supplement, is there a weekly or daily supplemental dose of K2 that you recommend?
BM: In addition to the foods, the one in my online store is just 50 micrograms a day. There is another one I carry that’s 90 micrograms a day. And these are tiny, tiny amounts. So, again, you’re using it every single day. So a small daily dose of 50 to 100 micrograms a day of MK7. MK7 is a little different, slightly formed than MK4. It gets a little complicated.
But with the emu oil, which is the richest source of natural MK4 in the world. Even then the numbers are very low and you think how is that enough? Well, because it’s MK4, which is the natural form as opposed to MK7. So that’s a whole other topic is, MK4 versus MK7. MK4 comes from food and that includes the emu oil. And MK7 come from anything that’s synthesized.
DrMR: Now, I want to ask you this one question. This was a study that gave vitamin K2 for eight weeks and noted the 12% increase in maximal cardiac output. They listed a dose of 300 milligrams per day. And they use vitamin K2, I’m looking to see if they specify what type. I’m assuming it’s an MK7. But any thoughts on the dose being so high?
BM: Again, it’s like that osteoporosis study. There is just not a lot of work on this because who is paying to research vitamins? And then of course the goal is can we patent this and make a drug out of it. But clearly there does not seem to have an upper toxic limit to this nutrient. We were just born to have vitamin K2.
DrMR: Right. One of the other questions I wanted to ask you was, any risks from over supplementation? Risk of overdosing? Risk of side effects? So I’m assuming there is not much there but any thoughts on that?
BM: No. Not according to the few studies that we have. And besides, how much ghee and pastured meat can you eat? And the pill form that we can buy over-the-counter are tiny doses. They’re not massive doses.
DrMR: Got you. I think that’s everything I wanted to go through for K2. Anything else you wanted to cover there before we transition to GABA?
BM: No. Just to remember that K carries calcium. So anything that is remotely related to calcium, you’ve got a K2 issue. And that’s bones, teeth, jaws, arteries, and muscles. There is just so much there.
I read about it a lot. So people can just hop over there too and get some ideas. And check out the emu thing because it’s really fascinating. I’m really intrigued by that. And they’re lovely people, the walkabout emu oil importers, and the whole thing about these amazing heritage birds.
DrMR: And you mentioned your website where we can go to the search box and look for more. And your website is ondietandhealth.com, right?
BM: That is right. And my podcast is Primal Diet – Modern Health. But yes, ondietandhealth and the store is there too.
DrMR: Okay. So let’s talk about GABA.
BM: Oh goodie. I love to talk about GABA.
GABA Supplementation and Rx
DrMR: I guess let’s just start wherever you want to start with GABA. Actually, I’m going to say that but then not follow through on that. But let me just offer one or two things that I’ve heard about GABA and I’d like to get your thoughts on.
I know for a while it was used as a blood-brain barrier test. Essentially, the posit behind this was, GABA should not be able to cross the blood-brain barrier. So if you take GABA and you feel a relaxation and anti-anxiety type of effect that means you have a leaky blood-brain barrier. I never really bought that. It just seemed a bit too speculative. I’m certainly open if someone were to show me the right evidence. But it just seemed like it was a very speculative and not a very clinically useful kind of tool.
And I’m guessing you have some different thoughts on maybe taking GABA should almost always lead to a positive impact. But any thoughts on GABA as a test for blood-brain barrier porosity?
BM: I have heard that also in studies and etcetera. So I will use that same information and tell people that you don’t want to buy, basically, a GABA that when you look at the ingredient list, it just says GABA, G-A-B-A. Basically, you want what’s called pharma GABA, like pharmaceutical but not quite P-H-A-R-M-A. And that pharma GABA has enough of a little tweak to it that it is supposedly then allowed to cross the blood-brain barrier.
And then the natural forms, the way that we crank it out in the clinic and the online store is using passion flower. It’s a weed that grows on the fences here in Texas and makes the most stunning flower. And passion flower, as far as I know, it’s the richest natural source of the package of precursors and the stuff that helps the body utilize and withdraw GABA from it. I don’t have studies on that. I just, having sold thousands of bottles of it and changed lives. But that’s the natural form.
And on the opposite end, you’ve got the prescription GABAs and things that work with the GABA receptors. And those are your seizure drugs and anxiety drugs: gabapentin, clonazepam, Topamax, Depakote, Lyrica. All those are in the prescription family. And of course they are an altered form of GABA too.
There are multiple forms of GABA, which is a great long six-syllable word. But if you’re buying it on a supplement, either look for what’s called pharma GAMA or go with the herbs, the passion flower, skullcap, chamomile, California poppy. They all provide that GABA support.
Here is my brief neurotransmitter 101. There are four main neurotransmitters: Two that are excitatory and two that are inhibitory. And they need to be in balance. It’s the yin/yang, light/dark, fast/slow of the brain, two that are excitatory are acetylcholine and dopamine. The two that are inhibitory are serotonin and GABA.
And serotonin has of course been prescribed in various forms for decades. But GABA, not, because the medical industry just looks at the clonazepam and the Topamax side of things. They don’t look at the herbs, the passion-flower-side of it. So I call it the forgotten neurotransmitter. Nobody wants to even mention it. And yet, GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter. And inhibition sounds like a bad thing. But no, it stops obsessive thinking, stops over-eating, stops reflux, stops panic, relaxes the muscles, lets your brain sleep, unclenches your TMJ jaw, changes your perception of pain, changes your oversensitivity to all incoming senses.
And GABA is the master of this: addiction, pain, relaxation, sleep, stress, and obsessive thinking. And then it gets off in all kinds of things: tachycardia, easy flushing of the skin like blushing, tinnitus, anger, irritability, diarrhea, irritable bowel—that’s a big GABA one. And if you think about it, they’re all the too-much-of-something syndrome and that’s GABA comes in as the inhibitory.
Dr. Ruscio Resources
Hey, everyone, this is Dr. Ruscio. I quickly wanted to fill you in on the three main resources that are available to you in case you need help or would like to learn more. Of course, I see patients both via telemedicine, via Skype, and also at my physical practice in Walnut Creek, California.
There is of course my book, Healthy Gut Healthy You, which gives you what I think is one of the best self-help protocols for optimizing you gut health and of course understanding why your gut is so important and so massively impactful on your overall health.
And then finally, if you are a clinician trying to learn more about my functional medicine approach, there is The Future of Functional Medicine Review, which is a monthly newsletter. Which is a training tool to help sharpen clinical skills. All of the information for all three of these is available at the URL michael-ruscio.preview21.rmkr.net/resources. And in case you are on the go, that link is available in the description on all of your podcast players. Okay, back to the show.
GABA Studies & Dosing
DrMR: Got you. And I’m just looking in PubMed now for studies here on passion flower (1, 2, 3, 4). And it looks like there has been a few, even one here that is showing that there must be a product called Passiflora. And excerpt was used and it helped with impaired job performance and generalized anxiety. So it’s definitely very interesting. Are you using this?
BM: That’s its Latin name, Passiflora. Yes, exactly.
DrMR: Got you.
So is this something that you’re giving to almost everyone, because everyone exhibits a degree of this? Or are you using it for certain people at certain times?
BM: Well, I’ll tell you. We have clients that come in and buy five bottles at a time. And one is for their teen. One is for their college student. One is in the kitchen. One is in their car. One is in their purse. Everybody has their passion flower because you can take it during the night. You can take it during the day. You can take it anytime.
And what I like to teach people is to learn—you know that old phrase, “It’s so cold, it’s a three dog night?” You know, how many dogs you have to pile on you to keep you warm when it’s so cold? You have to learn your 10-drop dose, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50-drop dose with GABA. This is how I teach people. If you learn how you, the 19-year-old, react to a 20-drop dose when you’re having a little study anxiety about your midterm or whatever, then now you know what a 20-drop dose feels like.
And then at another time, you take the 40 or the 50-drop dose to feel that relaxation, so that when something happens and you have to, whatever, it’s like you’re not experimenting with taking it, you know you need the 40 or 50-drop dose. And you know you can repeat it again in an hour or two.
The label on the passion flower we sell, it used to read, for dosage, 10 to 60 drops one to four times a day. That’s a pretty big range. In other words, just take it. And you don’t want to take a 50-drop dose when you’re trying to wake up and scramble your eggs and get off for the day. But if you know that you have anxiety on the freeway and getting your kids off to school, take a little 10 or 15-drop dose just to mellow your brain out a little bit in the morning. So learn how to use it. It’s a tool that should be in your toolkit along with chamomile, California poppy, and skullcap. But passion flower is the king.
DrMR: And so one of the potential side effects of taking too much is kind of over tranquilizing yourself, right?
BM: Let’s call it drowsiness. It won’t knock you out. It won’t pass you out. Now, if you took valium and six shots of beer, and then you take a big dose of GABA, yeah you’re going down.
How to Use Passion Flower
But for people with some intelligence that are managing themselves and are aware, “Okay, I’m getting a little too intense with this email here with this person, and I need to back off. And get away from the computer. Go take some passion flower. Look out the window and try again in 15 minutes.”
And during the night, I tell my clients, “Keep that bottle of passion flower under your pillow.” That’s why we sell it in the glycerin form, which is hard to find. Because it’s not in the alcohol form, which works fine, but you’ve got that herbal alcohol tincture burning thing and you need a swig of water. But when you take it in the glycerin, which is kind of sweet, it’s a little weird tasting but once you get used to it, you’ll love it. You can take a swig in the dark by keeping it under your pillow to help you shut your mind back down and go back to sleep.
DrMR: Got you. And any potential effects that people are using it as a sleep aid? Do you notice people use it in too high of a dose or too late at night, that they have to contend with grogginess in the morning?
BM: No. That is why it is helpful to grant yourself the grace to take it during the night also, if you need it. Yes, if you have to get up in an hour, you don’t want a 50-drop dose, no. But that’s why you learn—
The article I wrote about the passion, skullcap, chamomille, Valerian, and California poppy, those five herbs, you should know as closely as you know garlic, rosemary, thyme, olive oil, ginger, and cayenne pepper, whatever. They’re common seasoning in your kitchen. And you know you wouldn’t put a tablespoon of cayenne pepper and one grain of salt. That’s how you want to learn these five herbs so they’re that familiar to you. And then you can use them for a lifetime and everybody in your family.
DrMR: Let’s say for someone five and sorting that out feels a little bit daunting. Of course they could start with one, would you say passion flower would be the one of choice to start with again?
BM: Absolutely, the passion flower. And again, it’s easier to have it in the glycerin unless you always have a sip of water nearby. And again, do a 10-drop, how am I feeling. Then tomorrow do a 15 to 20 drop. And then do a 25-drop. Learn your range of 10 to 50 and what that feels like so that when you have to handle a semi-crisis in your life, you know you can take 40 to 50 drops and repeat that to help you to calm down and think clearly.
DrMR: And in terms of how long for it to take effect and then how long for the effects to dissipate, any general observations there?
BM: Well, that’s something I actually talk about in that article on five calming herbs for anxiety, sleep and stress, is that it depend on the form like a chamomile tea, versus a chamomile tincture, versus a capsule of dried chamomile. They all have a different potency and a different speed of impact, if you will. The tinctures are all pretty fast. Tea is fast but it’s not concentrated. The capsule is concentrated but then you have to wait for the capsule. And then your body has to breakdown that flower and convert it. So again, you’ve got to play with these forms. They’re safe.
I have young ones as young as eight or nine that have their own 1-ounce bottle of passion flower. Everybody else gets the 2- to 4-ounce. If they drink the whole bottle they take a nap. Otherwise, they learn like, “Wow. That was not a good thing to do. I slept through dinner.” And they learn. It doesn’t hurt you.
And I was going to say I’ve never seen anybody report any kind of a side effect. But that is not true. You never know when people say, “Oh, I just didn’t like that. It gave me an upset tummy.” But you know how that is, if you’ve done something once and you took a pizza at the same time and had a fight with somebody, how do you know it wasn’t the fight or the pizza.
DrMR: Yeah. And especially if people are sometimes using this to cope with stress, then that stressful episode may be surrounded by poor food choices. The negative effects of that stressful episode, which can sometimes manifest as insomnia or gastrointestinal upset. So yeah, I understand what you’re driving at there completely.
Anything else on GABA that you want to offer people?
BM: Yes. And you just did the perfect segue into that. And that is the whole point of GABA in this conversation we just had is that it’s that bringing to your attention and underlying cause in how you live and think, live your life that’s burning you out and causing you mental, physical, emotional stress.
So the passion flower is not going to change your bad diet, having to fight on the freeway for two hours to get to a job you hate, etcetera, and the fact that you’re also have to text the whole way, whatever. GABA is all about burnout. Or a better way is – this is how I define anxiety is too much incoming sensory data for our evolutionary brains to process.
I mean, what did we have to deal with? Okay, it’s going to rain. There is an elk. Is that a snake or a stick? Uh oh, Joe just fell down a cliff we got to go get him. As opposed to the every five-second performance in life that we have now. And so it’s an overload of incoming sensory and performance data. And that’s what our brain’s never evolved to handle. That is why this is so deep is that GABA is trying to help us. It’s our evolutionary break. And we didn’t have to have a lot of breaks so we didn’t evolve with a lot of GABA supply, if you will.
DrMR: I’ll just add to that something that I think is always a good reminder. It’s that your cellphone is going to be one of your biggest sources of stimulation. And it can be an incredibly helpful exercise just to switch your ringer off and put your phone face down so that you don’t see any of the on-screen pop-up notifications. And if you’re doing something, do just that one thing. And monitor yourself. And I think anyone will be shocked at how quickly you’ll reach for your cellphone.
Cell Phone Use
I know one of the things I had to detrain myself on is I’m driving my car, there is a red light and, boom, my right hand reaches for my phone. The second I am not occupied with something, you just have this reflexive reach for your device. And I have been detraining that.
But if you take a mental survey of yourself, it’s incredible how often you will be interrupted. Even if you’re let’s say trying to sit down and read a book and just enjoy the book, every couple of minutes there is a buzz of the cellphone or you’re looking at your cellphone. And it’s remarkable how easily our brains can be re-patterned to be constantly interrupted. And that is stressful.
So I would say, a cellphone is one thing. And just taking a stock of how frequently you’re interrupted and trying to take steps to reduce the frequency of interruptions can be massively helpful in just calming you down and burning you out less. Because, just as you were alluding to here, Beverly, that constant interruption can be stressful on your body. And it can burn out all those neurotransmitter systems and leave you with that tired-but-wired kind of feeling.
So definitely a few things there that are simple that can go a long way in helping to reduce your anxiousness load.
BM: Yeah. And GABA has a strong relationship with addiction, irritable bowel, pain, anger, muscle tension, sleep, all this obsessive thinking, tachycardia. So again, reducing the cause of all this.
And people find this hard to believe but it’s true. I don’t have a cellphone. I’ve got a clinic for the last 35 years. I own the largest natural health center in San Antonio that I have to manage. I have my property with the horses and animals. My own health, which is a constant struggle and issue. My podcast. My blog. My online store. I have all these going on, I don’t have a cellphone because of what you just said.
So if I want to check my emails and check my phone messages, then I will pick up my hard-wired telephone. I don’t even have wi-fi. I pick up my hard-wired telephone and go to my hard-wired computer and answer that. So people, yes, it is possible to have a full and busy life without wi-fi and cellphone.
DrMR: Wow. It’s great to hear that you’re unplugging that much. As you’re saying that, it kind of makes me think that cellphone is like a tool. And I think that you have to be taught how to use that tool properly. And I am hoping that the current or the next few generations of parents will help teach children how to use the cellphone. Because I always find it to be a travesty when I look up at a dinner. And I see this more often that I would like to admit. And you see a couple of adults and a couple of kids. And the adults are all talking, and every kid is just inundated in their device, their phone, their tablet, or their pad.
I understand the temptation to pacify your children so you can catch up with your friends or whatever. But sometimes what’s easiest in the moment is actually the more detrimental choice in the longer term. So I just offer that to parents as something to consider and think about, because it is remarkable how much more you see the younger generations just with their heads constantly down on the device. The devices are tempting. But part of that is also the parents not imparting good guidelines for how to use these things appropriately. I’ll get off my soap box now, but just a few things to chime in in that regard.
BM: Well, I agree with you completely. It’s our opportunity to teach and learn from each other is conversation. I mean, that’s what sets us apart from our earlier, non-quite-homosapien selves. It’s our ability to talk and communicate.
DrMR: Absolutely. All right, Beverly, anything else that you want to leave the audience with?
BM: No. It’s a pleasure to talk to you.
DrMR: Same here.
BM: The GABA thing changed my life when I found out that that was why so many body systems in me had gone down. And it was overwhelming. How do you fix nine different big problems? And then you find out, ‘Oh my gosh, they all have the same cause’.
In my case, they diagnosed as partial seizure disorder. And I actually went on prescription like a low dose of Topamax or Depakote, which is again a prescription GABA for the GABA receptors. Within a week, my life was different.
It took a year and then I was off that. But it took a little time for me to give my brain something it was desperate for. And now I don’t need the prescription form. I do it by lifestyle, by passion flower, and all that.
DrMR: I like it. And tell people where they can track you down, your book, website?
DrMR: Sorry, you were mentioning the vitamin K book is what I’m thinking about.
BM: Yes, The Calcium Paradox. I have two books in me, one on GABA and one on K2. But they just haven’t manifested with everything else going on in my life. So I rely on people like you to get this information out to people.
K2, the cradle-to-grave nutrient. The information on my blog about how to give it to your babies and get them to grow the wide jaw bones and cheek bones that can hold up a fully formed jaw bone. And they don’t need braces and dental extractions. And you wont have that receding narrow chin. So, K2 is pretty awesome. And then when you’re older, heart disease and blood pressure; it’s like, ‘Okay, cradle-to-grave, I get it’.
DrMR: All right, Beverly. Well, been a pleasure chatting. Thank you for taking the time. And check out Beverly’s stuff guys. I think you’ll enjoy it.
And yeah, I was on your podcast a while back also, so another interview over there if you wanted to have a look. And yeah, thank you again for taking the time.
BM: Yes, because you spoke about the gut-adrenal connection on my podcast. And that is really interesting. So I urge people to go and listen to that on Primal Diet – Modern Health. And of course your book, which is amazing. You’ve done so much research on that that kudos to you for all your good data. So thanks.
DrMR: Thank you. Thank you. All right, Beverly. Well, have a good rest of your day. We’ll talk soon, hopefully.
BM: Bye bye.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
- Get help using this information to become healthier.
- Get your personalized plan for optimizing your gut health with my new book.
- Healthcare providers looking to sharpen their clinical skills, check out the Future of Functional Medicine Review Clinical Newsletter.
Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.