The Natural Evolution Podcast

Season 1

Episode 9

S1E9 – I Diagnosed Myself with Dementia with Dr. Kat Toups

In this episode I’ll chat with Dr. Kat Toups.  Dr. Toups had worked with many clinical trials treatments for Alzheimer’s and after some struggles with autoimmune issues and allergies, she ended up catching her own memory loss when administering memory tests for patients.  After she discovered Functional Medicine, she was able to turn things around and reverse degenerative brain disease for herself and for patients.

Kat Toups, MD is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (the highest honor bestowed by the APA), Board-Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and previously boarded in Geriatric Psychiatry. She is also a Certified Practitioner with the Institute for Functional Medicine.

Dr. Toups was formerly an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at U.C. Davis, where she was the Inpatient Residency Training Director and later the founder and Medical Director of the Bay Area Research Institute, a Clinical Trials Research Center in Lafayette, California, for 12 years. After serving as the Principal Investigator on over 100 clinical trials, including 20 failed trials for Alzheimer’s medications, she realized that the elusive cure for brain and psychiatric illness was not going to be found in a pill.

In 2009, Dr. Toups attended a “Food as Medicine” conference that opened her eyes to the power of nutritional interventions and learned about Functional Medicine. She went on to complete all of the advanced training for certification at the Institute for Functional Medicine, and many other additional functional and environmental medicine trainings. Her practice is now devoted exclusively to functional medicine psychiatry and functional approaches for treating cognitive impairment and dementia.

Dr. Toups was a contributing author to the academic textbook Integrative Therapies for Depression: Redefining Models for Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention published in 2015 by CRC Press, and wrote a chapter, Decoding Dementia, in the book Life 201: A One-Stop Shop for Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness as part of a project for a PBS fund-raiser.  

She has been a featured speaker at national and international medical conferences on Dementia and Functional Medicine Psychiatry topics, as well as a frequent guest on podcasts and summits. 

She has recently completed collaborating with Dr. Dale Bredesen on a prospective clinical trial using a functional medicine method to reverse mild cognitive impairment and early dementia, and the study publication is expected in 2021. 

Dr. Toups is also the author of an upcoming book, Dementia Demystified: The Definitive Guide to Resurrecting Your Brain, Reversing Cognitive Decline, and Regaining Your Memory.

YouTube

  • For lectures and podcast interviews, you can subscribe to Dr. Toups’s YouTube channel: 

https://www.youtube.com/KatToupsMD

Facebook

  • Share your thoughts and your experiences with her on her Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/BayAreaWellness.net 
  • Or search Kat Toups, MD – Functional Psychiatry and Dementia 
  • She posts lots of useful information on the brain, dementia, and Functional and Nutritional Psychiatry. 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kattoupsmd

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kattoupsmd

Instagram: https://instagram.com/kattoupsmd 

You can find Dr. Toups’s latest news, info and programs at: www.DementiaDemystified.com

Listen to Episode #9

About our Guest

Kat Toups, MD is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (the highest honor bestowed by the APA), Board-Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and previously boarded in Geriatric Psychiatry. She is also a Certified Practitioner with the Institute for Functional Medicine.

Dr. Toups was formerly an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at U.C. Davis, where she was the Inpatient Residency Training Director and later the founder and Medical Director of the Bay Area Research Institute, a Clinical Trials Research Center in Lafayette, California, for 12 years. After serving as the Principal Investigator on over 100 clinical trials, including 20 failed trials for Alzheimer’s medications, she realized that the elusive cure for brain and psychiatric illness was not going to be found in a pill.

In 2009, Dr. Toups attended a “Food as Medicine” conference that opened her eyes to the power of nutritional interventions and learned about Functional Medicine. She went on to complete all of the advanced training for certification at the Institute for Functional Medicine, and many other additional functional and environmental medicine trainings. Her practice is now devoted exclusively to functional medicine psychiatry and functional approaches for treating cognitive impairment and dementia.

Dr. Toups was a contributing author to the academic textbook Integrative Therapies for Depression: Redefining Models for Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention published in 2015 by CRC Press, and wrote a chapter, Decoding Dementia, in the book Life 201: A One-Stop Shop for Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness as part of a project for a PBS fund-raiser.

She has been a featured speaker at national and international medical conferences on Dementia and Functional Medicine Psychiatry topics, as well as a frequent guest on podcasts and summits.

She has recently completed collaborating with Dr. Dale Bredesen on a prospective clinical trial using a functional medicine method to reverse mild cognitive impairment and early dementia, and the study publication is expected in 2021.

Dr. Toups is also the author of an upcoming book, Dementia Demystified: The Definitive Guide to Resurrecting Your Brain, Reversing Cognitive Decline, and Regaining Your Memory.

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SE01E09 I Diagnosed Myself with Dementia with Dr. Kat Toups

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Podcast Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Natural Evolution, produced by Rebel Health Tribe, a radio show focused on providing you with inspiration, education, and tools for true healing and transformation. I’m Michael, and I’ll be your guide on this adventure as together we explore the very nature of the healing journey. On today’s episode, we are joined by Kat Toups, MD, who is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Board-Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and previously boarded in Geriatric Psychiatry.

She’s also a Certified Practitioner with the Institute for Functional Medicine. Dr. Toups was formerly an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at U.C. Davis, where she was the Inpatient Residency Training Director and later the founder and Medical Director of the Bay Area Research Institute, a Clinical Trials Research Center in Lafayette, California, for 12 years. After serving as the Principal Investigator on over 100 clinical trials, including 20 failed trials for Alzheimer’s medications, she realized that the elusive cure for brain and psychiatric illness was not going to be found in a pill.

Dr. Toups was a contributing author to the academic textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression: Redefining Models for Assessment, Treatment and Prevention, published in 2015 by CRC Press, and is currently collaborating with Dr. Dale Bredesen on a prospective clinical trial using a functional medicine method to reverse mild cognitive impairment in early dementia. And the study publication is expected this year, I believe. We’ll be talking about that.

And Dr. Toups is also the author of a soon to be released book, Dementia Demystified: The Definitive Guide to Resurrecting Your Brain, Reversing Cognitive Decline, and Regaining Your Memory. That’s a mouthful. That’s a lot you’re up to. So, let’s start a little bit more back at the beginning. We’ll get into the research in the book eventually. But I want to start out first, I guess, thanking you for being here. I really appreciate it. I know how busy you are.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Thank you for having me. It’s so [inaudible 00:02:05].

Michael:

It’s going to be fun. My conversations with Dr. Toups are always a good time. I’d like to know, you’ve gotten into functional medicine and dementia is definitely your focus. When you started out, you were not into functional medicine. It was more conventional psychiatry, correct?

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right, yes.

Michael:

What was it that originally drew you to psychiatry?

Dr. Kat Toups:

Oh, the psychiatry. Well, that goes way back …

Michael:

Sure.

Dr. Kat Toups:

… to early childhood grade school, actually. I actually enjoyed reading some of the history with Freud and Jungian, and interested in how the mind work. And I also really got interested in parapsychology supernatural phenomenon and all of that, and I read everything I could find about that. And when I started college, I originally was a psychology major, because I was interested in all of those kind of things. I actually wished there was a parapsychology major, but they didn’t have that. And so that’s where I started in my educational life.

But the university I was at, I don’t know, psychology was considered like basket weaving. And people would say, “Oh, you’re in the basket weaving major.” And so, I pivoted. And I ended up getting a degree in physical anthropology and went on to graduate school in in genetics, and was studying evolutionary genetics. And it’s a circuitous path, but it ties back to psychology and psychiatry. And then I got interested in medical genetics, which was brand new at that time in the early ’80s. And one of my mentors said, “Kat, you need to go to medical school.”

He said, “If you want to do this kind of research with people and human subjects, you need to have their blood. And it’s just going to be easier instead of having a PhD if you get an MD.” And so, I said, “Okay.” I respected my mentor. And I had taken all most of the right classes because I have one diversion, I was a computer science major for a couple years. I had physics and calculus and all the kinds of things you need. And so, I went to medical school.

And the first year in … Let me say, when I went to medical school, I thought I was going to get the MD degree and go back and finish my PhD and do research. And so, at that time, I said, oh, I don’t want to do things to people. That wasn’t my intent. But the first year, we studied psychiatry, and that just rekindled all of those early interests, and I just realized, this is what I like to study. This is so fascinating. The first summer of medical school, I went and volunteered and worked … I was at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, which was quite an interesting place to train.

It was like Third World medicine in a lot of ways. And you saw a lot of pathology. There was a lot of sick people there without great resources. So I volunteered and worked in the psych ward. And I also had a mentor that I volunteered within the psych emergency room at Charity Hospital, and that was my real education starting, I would say, that summer, working with so many people. So that’s how I got interested in psychiatry, was just probably a lifelong fascination with the brain and how we think and how we relate in our emotions.

Michael:

Interesting. That’s quite a winding road. People ask my path, and they always expect it to be this linear thing like, “Oh, I knew I was going to do this.” And it never seems to work that way. And it’s all zigzagged all over and …

Dr. Kat Toups:

Well, I had several different majors along the way.

Michael:

I did too.

Dr. Kat Toups:

And I remember, when I started college and I skipped my last year of high school and I went to college early, and I only found out right before it started that I got accepted. And back then, people weren’t groomed and they didn’t have all these counselors. But you met with a counselor at the beginning, and he was helping me to decide what major I wanted to study. And after a little while, he threw up his hands and he said, “Kat, you can’t study every major in four years.” But that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to learn everything there kind of thing. Who knows when they’re 17, 18 years old.

Michael:

No.

Dr. Kat Toups:

You go in with one thing, but I think it’s really important to, when life bring something else and to be able to pivot and walk down another path, you don’t know at that time in your life the full spectrum of possibilities, so [inaudible 00:06:51].

Michael:

Absolutely.

Dr. Kat Toups:

I know some parents worry when their kids are changing their mind. And I say, “They’ll be fine in the end, a year two extra.” It took me six years to get through college.

Michael:

Really?

Dr. Kat Toups:

I had to work and I was paying my way through, and I switched majors. But everything I learned added to who I am.

Michael:

Absolutely, yeah. At times, I beat myself up like, oh, I wish I didn’t spend so much time on that thing or that degree or that thing that I don’t do. My first degree is in history and education. I was a teacher for a few years and I don’t use it at all, but it was interesting information. Learning how to teach has helped me in this career. And so everything led to each other, but you don’t always see … The connection isn’t always super clear. But there’s always a something gained from it. And so, you started out or you did a lot of years in research and working in clinical studies.

I’m guessing the interest in functional medicine or more functional approach appeared somewhere towards the tail end of that. That was at the transition. You were in a lot of clinical research type work and then transitioned to functional medicine. Was there a trigger there? Some …

Dr. Kat Toups:

Sure.

Michael:

… [inaudible 00:08:08] you in that direction?

Dr. Kat Toups:

Sure. Like most people that have to pivot that are not being helped by traditional medicine, it’s our own health problems or our family’s health problems that [crosstalk 00:08:18].

Michael:

Was that your own? Is that because …

Dr. Kat Toups:

It was my own.

Michael:

Okay, cool. Then we’re going to just get into that, because this is … Obviously, you’ve been listening to this season of the podcast, you’re aware that the stories that were there, the guests that we’re having on for this season, we’re talking about stories and healing journeys and transformation. And when I knew that that’s what we were going to do with this first season, Kat was one of the first people I reached out to because she has a rather remarkable story.

And what I find so interesting and unique and remarkable about it is you catch stories from people like, oh, I used to have back pain and I don’t. Or I had this anxiety and I don’t. And all those things are great, but Kat’s healing story involves a condition, which we’ve been told is irreversible and is only progressive and only moves in one direction. And now that is your passion as a practitioner and a researcher. And so, let’s just jump right into that. And as I hinted in the bio, obviously, dementia is where we’re going here. So I guess we’ll set the stage a little bit about like, what did your life look like? What were you doing at the time? And what did you start to notice? How did you start to realize something wasn’t right?

Dr. Kat Toups:

Yeah, I think that’s a really important thing with dementia in general, because it’s an insidious process. And if you have to get to a certain point where maybe you feel like something isn’t right in your brain, but sometimes it takes a while before you catch it. And in my case, I was young. At the time, I was 50 years old. This was 11 years ago, I’d say. And I was running my clinical trials research center, I did over 100 clinical trials with all kinds of psychiatric medications, neurologic medications, fibromyalgia, sleep studies, sexual dysfunction, all kinds of things.

And I was passionate about that, because I was trained that medicines help people. And I do think there’s medicines that help people. Obviously, I’m not anti-medicine at all. But what was happening, especially with my psychiatric patients, is the medicines, they just weren’t making them well. And each new medicine, I get a new study for a new mechanism of action and I get all excited, oh, this is a new mechanism of action, this is going to help the depression patients.

And then things, they just … You start to see what happens that they might relieve suffering, but do they get people well? Which is really our goal in medicine, why we want to help people. We want them to be well. We don’t want to just manage a lifelong illness if we can get them well. So, dementia was especially depressing. I did 20 long term dementia trials, and they all failed. I mean, a dementia trial is considered a success if you don’t decline quite as fast, but you’re still declining. You’re still going to go and lose your cognitive function.

Michael:

And it’s considered a success in a dementia trial if the progression of the disease slows, but the progression is still heading in a negative direction.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right. We don’t have a single drug that stops it or reverses it. And there’s been billions and billions of dollars spent on all these drugs, and they’re still doing it. And the answer, as some of us have figured out, is it’s not going to be one pill because it’s a multitude of things that are causing the dementia. So it’s such a mixed bag that we’re not going to find a pill to cure it. But what happened was, so I’m doing the trials and I had developed immune problems. And they probably started in residency, my residency.

It was clear that it was reactive to things and having some immune problems. And it waxed and waned in my life. It flare, and I’d have a lot of fatigue and rashes and this and that. But it had come back. It was flaring at this time, and I started just becoming allergic to everything. And I was covered with rashes and I was covered with hives. And I would get up all night long and put on lotions and topical steroids. I couldn’t sleep because the itching was making me crazy. And I tested food allergies. I was allergic to like 96 out of 98 foods.

And smells would give me rashes and hives. But the worst part was all that inflammation in my body was eating up my brain. And so, I’d figured it out, first off, that the cognition was going by testing my patients in my study. So I would have to give them rating scales and test their memory. And there’s a test we did called the Mini-Mental Status exam. And you give people three words to remember, like apple, table, penny. And I say, “Okay, repeat these words.” And then I say, “Okay, remember those. I’m going to come and ask you again in a few minutes.”

And then I asked them other questions and I come back to the words, and I couldn’t remember the words. And I have two sets of words that I use, and I had used those words for more than 20 years. They were things well ingrained in my memory. And then I go to ask them and I couldn’t remember which ones I’d given them. So I had to start writing that down, and that was my clue really, that, oh my god, I’m getting as impaired as my patients. I can’t remember things. And it just got worse and worse. I mean, that was the start of it.

But I decided I need to take a break and I moved all my ongoing research studies over to another site. And I thought, I’m just going to take a month off and I’m going to be better. Well, it was a three-year journey of healing all kinds of things before I was better enough to go back to work. And, of course, I got worse before I got better. I’m going to …

Michael:

So you noticed your own impairment, administering memory, cognitive memory tests to people.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right. And I used to have a photographic …

Michael:

It’s almost a blessing like …

Dr. Kat Toups:

… memory. I used to really. I could read 30, 40 pages of notes to study.

Michael:

Well, I believe it if you did all that in college because those are not a pushover areas of study. But that’s a blessing that you were doing that work at the time that you started to have cognitive decline because what I’ve understood after the masterclass we did and all the conversations I had, the early detection is really key with a lot of these cognitive decline conditions. And they sneak in if you’re not paying really close attention or you’re not really aware.

And I think administering memory tests and noticing that you’re failing the memory test that you’re administering, kind of a stroke of luck that that’s what you were doing at the time that your memory went south. But you said it was three … So you took a month off, a month, and that turned into three years. Do you want to share about the progression of how that went? I heard you mentioned that you got worse before you got better. And I think sometimes that’s important for people to hear.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Well, I think to hear how bad it got, because to just say I had some memory problems was only the tip of the iceberg. For a year, I had such bad fatigue, that it was very hard to get out of a chair and leave my house. And if I left my house and I walked into a store, the smells would give me more rashes and hives and brain fog. So I had developed chemical sensitivity. But if I was driving, I was a very good driver before and I consider myself a very good driver now, but I lost the ability to parallel park.

I would go to try to parallel park my car and I would try and try, and I couldn’t make it happen. I couldn’t sequence the visual spatial stuff. Even backing up would just freak me out. My brain would not work. It wouldn’t sequence things. The processing speed was very impaired. And I think I’ve told you this story before. But one time, my husband got in the car with me and I was driving, and he’s like, “Kat, what’s wrong with you? You’re like a little old lady.” And I was just anxious and cautious because I was struggling.

So, fortunately, I didn’t go out much because probably wasn’t a good thing. I forgot how to use the computer. And I would forget how to do these common things that I did all the time. And I would ask my husband, “Dorian, could you come show me how to do this?” And he would get annoyed, because he’s like, “Kat, I just showed you how to do that yesterday or something.” And I wouldn’t even remember that he had shown me how to do it. And then it started affecting my hearing. And it wasn’t really my hearing, it was my auditory processing.

So I was having trouble hearing. And I was just getting snatches of words. I’ve never been a TV watcher. But if I walked into a room where my husband was watching TV and I paused to listen, I would say, “Are they mumbling?” Because I couldn’t understand what they were saying. And I went several times to the EMT and had my hearing tested. And he would say, “You just have a mild hearing loss. It really shouldn’t be impacting you.” And then I finally had a very terrifying experience one night. I had gone out to dinner with a couple of friends.

It was fairly late, the restaurant was quiet, and I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I literally could not participate in the conversation. I was just getting snatches of the words. And so, I tried to calm myself down. I was pretty terrifying. Wait, I don’t understand what anybody is saying anymore. And I sat back in and was rude, and I just read my emails because I just couldn’t participate in the conversation. I mean, I called my ENT the next morning and I went in, and I said, “Just give me those darn hearing aids. I just need to try something because I can’t function.”

And he looked at me funny and he said, “Kat, it’s not in your ear, it’s in your brain.” And he said, “I think you have developed auditory processing problems.” And so I had testing for that. And sure enough, I had auditory processing problems. Now the person who tested me said, “Well, you must have had this all your life, right?” Because some children are born with learning disabilities and learning differences. And, boy, I have so much empathy for the ones that have auditory processing problems, because you just hear blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And you can’t get the articulation. And I said, “No.” She said, “Well, you probably have trouble taking notes.” I said, “No. I got paid to take notes in medical school.”

Michael:

Yeah, actually, the opposite.

Dr. Kat Toups:

I was part of a note taking service. So I …

Michael:

Can I just clear something up really quick? With our senses, hearing and vision, I’m guessing, and probably even touch and smell and everything.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Smell, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Michael:

It’s multiple steps. And the step that you thought it was, was you thought that your ear wasn’t hearing the things properly, that you weren’t receiving the sound properly. And you receive the sound or the lights or whatever it is for the sense and that goes through the brain, and then the brain makes sense of the signal that it’s getting. And then it projects something to our consciousness that we can understand pretty much. So there’s the step of if the … Because the ear can be broken, and then the brain doesn’t receive the signal. But what your problem was, is the brain was getting the signal just fine, and then the output that you were getting was gibberish or broken.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right. The brain could not decode or uncouple and make sense of the input there.

Michael:

Okay, that makes sense. Okay.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right. And it’s interesting …

Michael:

So a hearing aid isn’t going to help you.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right. At that time, I tried it and it didn’t help me. But the good news is for everything that I’ve done on the healing journey, I no longer have that problem anymore. That’s another problem. Of course, it’s considered with kids that they’re born with it and they just have to learn strategies to manage it. But all of the things that we learned that were wrong that now we know are true, one of the biggest is neuroplasticity, that our brain can make new neuronal connections and it can heal if we can help it before it’s too far gone.

Michael:

Hey, if you’re enjoying the show, make sure you head over to rebelhealthtribe.com\kit, that’s K-I-T, and grab the RHT starter kit, which includes a sampler of four free videos from our professional masterclasses and webinars, the RHT healthy sleep guide, the wellness vault coupon book, which will save you money on all of our favorite health related tools and resources, a professional product guide, and a coupon for 15% off your first order in our shop. That’s rebelhealthtribe.com\kit, K-I-T. And you’ll get all that delivered right away.

Also, if you’re on Facebook, we’ve got a fun engaging and supportive group over there, as well with thousands of health seekers just like yourself. Just search for Rebel Health Tribe, then you’ll find us. Thanks for listening, and now back to the show. Okay, so we are now at the point where you learn that your issue is with the brain and not with the hearing. How far into your … You said you got worse before you got better. At what point along the journey was that realized, that this was the brain and not the hearing? Was that early?

Dr. Kat Toups:

Well, I think sometime in that year of being sick and all these things happening, it was clear that there was something wrong with my brain. Now, what do you do about it? Here I am, a geriatric psychiatrist. I’ve done a couple dozen Alzheimer trials, I’ve worked with dementia, and what was our treatment for dementia at that time, get your affairs in order. Take one of these three medicines.

Michael:

Yeah, you knew a whole bunch of things that didn’t work.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right. So, who do you see?

Michael:

What was that like, getting that diagnosis, when you’re from that world and that’s what you believe about those conditions? I mean, 50 isn’t the age in which you’re supposed to be told to get your affairs in order.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right, [crosstalk 00:22:57] …

Michael:

Nobody thinks that’s going to be them.

Dr. Kat Toups:

And I had treated a few patients with dementia in my trials in their 50s. And even back then, I knew that was something different than when you get it in your 80s. People that got it younger, it goes much more rapidly. And now I know, of course, that it’s a result of too much overwhelm for our immune system and too much inflammation and things start destroying the brain. And it can be from multiple things. It is generally the case. It’s multiple things that I had to uncover, discover, and work on healing to get the brain healing to happen.

But I didn’t know about functional medicine then. I’ve always been a curious seeker, whatever works. I was interested in integrative medicine. I had an oriental medical doctor who was our primary care doctor for our family. We use acupuncture. And she was also a naturopathic doctor. And back then, I didn’t even know what a naturopathic doctor was, but I just knew that this doctor was a healer. And she was my doctor, because traditional medicine, well, they would just say, well, take these pills, and they’re going to maybe slow it down for a year.

So I had to figure out another way. And I started taking a course. Well, I read the book, The Mood Cure, with Julia Ross, and she works with what she calls neuro-nutrients, amino acids that have benefit for the brain. And so, I signed up to take a course with her. And we met once a month, and got me to at least get out of the house once a month and be around some colleagues and some seekers. But as an outflow of that, I heard about a conference called Food is Medicine. And that’s what changed my life, and that’s what saved my life.

So I talked to one of my other colleagues in there. I mean, we’re now friends. I met her through that course. And she said, “I went to that conference.” And she family practice her internal medicine. She might be a family practice doctor, and she said, “I went to Food is Medicine.” And she said, “It changed my practice and it changed my life.” And I’m like, “Whoa, that’s what I need.” And those were very prophetic words. I got another friend, another psychiatrist, and she and I went to that conference, and it opened my eyes to so many things. I thought I ate healthy.

I mean, I follow directions. And back then, the directions of health were eat a low-fat diet. And now they tell us, okay, the biggest medical mistake of the century, so I ate a low fat diet. And guess what? My cholesterol was really, really low. And I thought, oh, I’m so good. I’m not going to get heart disease. My cholesterol was like 135, which is really low. And so, what I learned in my studies was, okay, I’m not going to get heart disease. But guess what? It’s one of the factors with dementia. You don’t have enough fat in your diet, your brain is all fat.

The myelin sheaths around your nerves are all fat. You don’t have enough fat, you’re not going to support your brain. And that’s something that we’ve learned pretty clearly now, but that was certainly an eye opener for me. And just the notion of all the nutrient deficiencies in our soils and even when we think we eat healthy, and I’m always eating organic already for a long time by then, but that’s not enough to just do that. So, in that conference back then, Mark Hyman was on the faculty, Patrick Hanaway, and Patrick Hanaway was a good friend from medical school days.

We were on the Board of Trustees at the American Medical Student Association together. And I hadn’t seen him in quite a few years, so that was fun. And Liz Lipski, one of the nutrition teachers from IFM, and they kept mentioning IFM, which was the Institute for Functional Medicine. So I said, well, I wonder what that is. So I’m sitting in the back row and I Google IFM. And I see that their next training module is autoimmune and allergy. And I said, whoa, that’s what I need. That’s what I need. So I signed up, and I went to that conference.

And my head was just spinning, because functional medicine is a big paradigm shift. There’s so many details that you have to learn. But I couldn’t learn right then. I had a sim for a brain. I couldn’t remember things, even writing everything down. And so, as an outcome of that, I started to create community, a functional medicine practitioner community, as a study group, so that to help me learn. I’m like, where do you order that lab? And where do you get that supplement? And what is the dose of that? And there’s a lot, a lot of things to learn.

It’s a very steep learning curve, especially for a psychiatrist. Because in psychiatry, I mean, we’re told like you deal with the brain and forget the rest of the body, which is so wrong. Whatever happens in the body is what’s happening in your brain. So I had to learn all about lipids and blood sugar and hormones, and all these findings.

Michael:

And it was so backwards compared to what you had been taught. I mean, I’ve found that a lot of doctors have told me, that have started in conventional medicine, that it’s actually harder. I’ve taken a couple IFM classes. I have a master’s in exercise physiology, and I learned the same like, starve yourself, don’t eat any fat. Eat broccoli and brown rice and tuna fish. I started out with that, too. And I remember that weird shift when I started to hear this other stuff. And I was like, what? I can eat butter?

What is this crazy … I was so excited to hear it, but I almost didn’t trust it because it sounded so nuts. But I’ve been told by a lot of doctors who started on the conventional side, that it’s almost harder to learn functional medicine, partially because it’s all new and it’s a steep learning curve. But because you have like … I’ll call it muscle memory in the wrong direction, in an opposite direction of if this, then that. It switches to if this, not that, then this. And it’s all these automatic connections in response [crosstalk 00:29:38].

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right, right. You’ve been indoctrinated. I mean, for me, it’s right in. I can tell you a great example regarding that cholesterol. So once I learned how essential cholesterol is, that it was a good fat and not a bad fat and it’s the precursor to all of our hormones, all of our sex hormones, our thyroid hormones. We need bad cholesterol. And so, I changed my diet and I started eating high fat at every meal. And one day, I did my cholesterol level and it came back at 203. I remember that distinctly.

And I just gasped, because the doctor in me of 20 years or so at that time was like, oh my god, my cholesterol is over 200. But then I had to calm myself down, I’m like, Kat, you have all the data, you know that that is an optimal cholesterol for you. Pathologically, that’s not going to hurt you. But, yes, I remember that so distinctly because I had to talk myself off the ledge, that that was too high, but it’s not. It’s a huge paradigm shift. And in the beginning, with functional medicine, as people were learning and I went through this myself, you have to change your thinking of green pharmacy.

Okay, you can use supplements instead of meds. But if you’re having a disorder and you’re giving a supplement for it, that’s still not fixing the root cause of why is it there. You still have to go backward into your diet, your lifestyle, your stress, because those are all factors. So, yes, just like you can use medication because you need it, if your blood pressure is high and you can’t get it down, there’s reasons that you need medicine. But to me now, the goal is let’s keep working backward to figure out how can we have you not need this in the first place.

It’s definitely a shift of mine from that traditional allopathic doctor into this different way of thinking. It takes a while, and it takes community like podcasts like this and all the teaching you do and groups that we have on Facebook. Or I mean, I started a local … Luckily, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have some brilliant minds here. And all of us that were studying at IFM together, we formed a study group and we met regularly, once a month for eight years. And we wrote back and forth on email, in between, and shared data and questions.

And I would have never learned functional medicine without my group. That was my rock and there’s so much to learn that you need to share with people. And then, so many people wanted to join my group and I wanted to keep it small because it was personal. And so, I started a listserv, Bay Area functional medicine listserv. And we didn’t advertise it, but practitioners wanted to join, they joined. And after like a couple of years, we had a couple 100 people. And it was a very involved listserv of people sharing information and data, was before Facebook really took over.

And eventually, the platform we used closed down, so we couldn’t find another good platform to keep that group going. But, yes, I think that’s an important message. If you can’t learn functional medicine or paradigm shifts in a vacuum, you need people to help you. Even without a sim for a brain, you still need that.

Michael:

Yeah. And I know a few doctors now through you and mutual friends and things that were in your group, and it’s turned into quite the group of functional medicine rock stars. So it’s probably interesting to see where a lot of people started and where they came from, or where they came from, where they are now, and what you’re all doing now versus those first few meet ups when you were all starting to learn. But you said that you increase your fat intake, you started to really look at diet in a completely different way. And what are some other changes or therapies?

Or what did your journey really look like? What do you think were the things that moved the needle the most? And on top of that, when did you notice it started to shift, like your results, like your function.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Yeah, yeah. Well, I definitely committed to the IFM path. And I was really just doing it to learn for myself and my patients. And so, the immune autoimmune and allergy was my overwhelm jump in because I hadn’t done the five-day foundational course, but …

Michael:

And autoimmune’s about as complex as the topic as you [crosstalk 00:34:16].

Dr. Kat Toups:

Exactly. So where does that take you next? It takes you to your gut. So the next module I took was GI. And I think GI is just where you got to go with everything for the route of health, for autoimmunity, for your brain. It’s just you got to have your gut in order, and mine was not good. And so, what happened was every module I took and I have found, you’re your first patient. I would test myself. I would learn on myself. I would figure out what to do for myself. And then, of course, that gives me the background to help my patients after that.

So I did a lot of gut healing work. And I mentioned I was allergic to everything, all the foods. Well, that’s a severe leaky gut. And the answer isn’t to avoid 96 out of 98 foods, it’s to do more gut healing. And one thing that I really did not get until very late in the game that I wished I had known in the beginning of the healing was the role of stress reduction and the parasympathetic nervous system to heal. So I was restricting my diet and I cut out all the major things, gluten and dairy and soy, and blah, blah, blah, and took lots of glutamine to heal the lining of my gut and probiotics and et cetera.

But it was not until … Actually, I was maybe already back at work. And I listened to a podcast, I think it was a mitochondrial summit. And they had Annie Hopper on there from DNRS, dynamic neural retraining system. I know you know about it, Michael, but she has a method of rewiring your brain and your limbic system. Because your limbic system is your emotion. So when you’re sick, like I was, you get afraid. Everybody that’s sick, I was reacting to everything, and my brain was turning to emotion. I couldn’t get out of a chair because I was so exhausted. You’re afraid.

And then every little smell, I would get fear like, oh my god, this is going to make me sick again. Or, oh, I ate the wrong food, it’s going to make me sick. So your whole limbic system, emotional center gets activated and you get stuck in those loops. And before I was sick, I could handle stress just fine. I’ve had plenty of it in my life. And it was just like, okay, I’m fine. I could work in the ER and be cool. But when I was that sick, those couple of years, I was just emotionally a mess. The smallest thing would just put me over the top, because I was barely coping. I was hanging off the ledge by my fingernails and trying to maintain through every day. So a little small thing would just turn me into a blithering idiot.

Michael:

Everything is relative in that state.

Dr. Kat Toups:

I see that so universally in people that are that sick. And it doesn’t mean you don’t know how to cope with stress or this or that, it’s like your brain is inflamed and everything’s firing and you’re so close to threshold, something little is going to trigger your brain some more and you can’t cope. And so, I’m more of a type A do things. And through my life, I’ve done lots of yoga and Qigong and Tai Chi and different things, but I didn’t have a regular practice of stress reduction like that.

And of course, what I’ve learned subsequently is when you’re in that sympathetic overdrive running from the tiger, you’re not in a healing state. All the blood is going to the wrong place to regenerate. It’s in the fight or flight. And so, in order to come to the best to really get your healing in order, you got to find a way to lower that arousal and lower the stress levels. And that’s a hard thing when you’re that sick. So this DNRS, I was into it. I was already about to work, now I recall. And it just hit me like a ton of bricks like, this is an amazing thing.

This could have really helped me a long time ago, and this could help my patients. So that was something that I signed up and I went to her workshop, and now I’ve had many patients benefit from that method. And she’s not the only one. They have the good method. And maybe you don’t do that and you do something else. I mean, it’s like, but it’s finding some way every day to calm your brain down so that your body can heal. So that was something I missed completely, to be honest, until I was three years down that path.

Michael:

Well, even the functional medicine model is as great as it is misses that sometimes, like that discussion. I’ve had clients. When I was working with clients, they would come in and they would send me their laundry list of supplements they’re taking and the lab tests that they took and practitioners that they’ve seen and the books that they’ve read, and this and then this and then this. And then they’d still be having all these symptoms. And I’d be like, “What’s your stress level like?” And they’re like, “I’m stressed out of my mind.”

And I’m like, “Okay, let’s start there because you’re spending a lot of money on pills that aren’t going to help you right now.” And nobody had talked to them about that. They would have seen five practitioners and nobody had mentioned it. They would just protocol them harder, and you can’t outprotocol … Like you said, the threshold changes. So stressed out of your mind when you’re in that state doesn’t take very much, like relative to somebody who’s in a resilient, vital, healthy state. And so, people might look at them and it’s almost like gaslighting.

Like what are you so stressed about? This is like your life objectively isn’t that hard right now, but then they’re sick and everything has this short fuse or window of tolerance, I guess, would be where it’s at. And I found it often it was missed. That was the missing piece for so many people, was just their body was freaked out all the time to put it in not so scientifically.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right. Well, and all those patients ended up with me as the psychiatrist, the functional medicine psychiatrist.

Michael:

Yeah, because they were told that it was in their head.

Dr. Kat Toups:

It’s in your head, right? There’s a diagnosis called somatization disorder, which really means it’s in your head. That’s a bullshit diagnosis. I do not like it. It’s not fair to anyone. And now, we have even more sophisticated testing. We can do like the volumetric MRIs with NeuroQuant. And we can see from the MRI itself will look normal. But when you segment out the size of all of the brain structures, we’ll see areas that are really overactive and inflamed and enlarged.

Now we’re getting better at finding even n objective way like that to say, you’re not crazy, look at this, your brain is inflamed. I mean, that’s what happens when you’re having inflammation. Your brain just gets on fire, brain on fire, and it’s schkkk. And the answer isn’t … Yes, you might need to take some anti-anxiety meds or antidepressants, but really, the real answer is to fix that. And as I said and you said, you got to keep going back downstream where did it start and what happened.

Because now we know that when you have a difficult childhood and you have a lot of stress in your childhood, you don’t have to be raped and beaten or you could have had a parent guy or a parent leave.

Michael:

It can be simple emotional neglect or like …

Dr. Kat Toups:

It could be all levels of things.

Michael:

Things that in this society are considered normal.

Dr. Kat Toups:

I mean, normal is the spectrum and most of it is normal. But now we know that when you have adverse childhood experiences, you have a much higher risk of immune disorders 20 years down the road. And now that’s mainstream. I mean, John Hopkins was one of the big places that did that early research, I believe.

Michael:

And Kaiser.

Dr. Kat Toups:

So, you have to look at what’s happening in their stress, but then sometimes you got to look at the trauma held in the body, and you have to work through all those layers to [crosstalk 00:42:33].

Michael:

Did you use the DNRS yourself?

Dr. Kat Toups:

DNRS, I did use DNRS.

Michael:

Yeah, you did the workshop and then you did the home training.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Yes, I did. Because I’ll tell you what happened. I signed up at the last minute, and they had it in a really nice retreat center in Ojai. But they filled up their rooms. They put me outside, at a motel. And the motel had all this black mold around the windows and all the curtains and the room reeked of bleach. And I really was no longer so chemically sensitive, but mold is a trigger for me personally. And when I get exposed to mold, I get debilitating headaches, debilitating fatigue, and my brain turns to mush.

And so, what happened was my brain … I mean, I would come back to my room at night and I’d sit outside for a while and open the doors and try to ventilate it. Now I found out I had to [inaudible 00:43:25] to be able to sleep in here, I should have gotten the hell out of there. Because in the DNRS, I reverted back to somebody whose brain did not work. And you learn steps of a practice. And then I was having trouble again learning, and I was already back to work by then. But you had to come up with an affirmation as part of your practice.

And so, I listened to everybody else’s affirmations. And I’m like, okay, I need something short. Because I couldn’t remember my affirmation very well. So, it literally put me back in that very bad cognitive state, but the practice was helpful. And technically, they say you should do that for an hour a day for six months and you can rewire your brain. Well, I came back to work and I can only do a half hour a day. I could never get up to an hour a day, but I still had very tangible benefits from that, particularly in stress reduction.

My husband still say, “You should go back to doing that,” if things get too stressed. And he said, “That was the best you ever are,” kind of thing. And it’s an amazing shift. And sometimes I have to work with patients that are too overwhelmed to even consider it. And then you have to do things to lower their arousal to when they can finally even think about it, consider it. And sometimes people shift so quickly from really bad stuff. The role of stress and that, for me, that was a farther down the path learning. Not that I didn’t know about it, but it’s …

Michael:

Okay. You’re not the first one that I know that’s benefited from that program, and I know of Annie. So dietary switch things up, more fats, cleaner foods, better nutrition. You studied the gut module and did a lot of gut healing and gut testing, and then worked on your stress and your nervous system. So you had more fats …

Dr. Kat Toups:

And then …

Michael:

… healthier gut and the stress.

Dr. Kat Toups:

So then on to the nutrients, I mean, like most Americans, I was deficient in vitamin D. I was actually very deficient in B12 because my gut was a mess and I wasn’t absorbing things well. I was probably low in mag and zinc, because I ended up taking those. So measuring all those nutrient levels and giving back the nutrients that your body needs to function. I actually ended up taking B12 shots for a couple of years. And my oriental medical doctor is the first one that said, “Well, listen, I think you need a B12 shot. Let me give you one.” And she gave me one.

And it was a major awakening in my energy. By the next day, I thought I was hypomanic. I just felt like I had so much energy compared to the woman who couldn’t get out of the chair and couldn’t do a thing. But it lasted for three days. And so, I went back to her the next week, and I said, “Oh, Megan, that was so great. I felt like I was hypomanic for three days.” And it wasn’t really hypomanic, it was just normal energy.

Michael:

Yeah, normal.

Dr. Kat Toups:

I said, “Please make me hypomanic again.” She goes, “Kat, this tells me, you need to take these twice a week,” which is what I did for a long time until I really healed my gut and everything. Then I took those shots twice a week. And I could feel when they would wear off. I would crash and get better. So, it was fixing all those nutrient levels. And then another piece was that that coincided with my final menopause transition. So it was hormones or lack thereof. And one of the things that I … I actually already knew some about the role of hormones in the brain.

I actually had a big file learning about dementia. And there was a body of literature out of UCLA and Stanford on that that I had studied somewhat, but we know that you have receptors in your brain for all these brain hormones. I mean, there are sex hormones, but they affect our brain. They’re not just for the sexual organs. And when I first started earlier in perimenopause, I had gone to my primary care doc years earlier and said, “I’m having a word finding difficulty. I’m forgetting words. I just can’t get the right word.”

And normally, I’m a very articulate person and I can say what I want to say, but I couldn’t get the right words. Or even worse, a few times, I would have word substitutions. I would say open the window when I meant open the door or things like that. And my doctor said, “Oh, well, welcome to perimenopause.” She said, “This is classic for perimenopause, to have word finding problems.” And so, okay, I felt a little comforted for 10 minutes. I went home and I thought about it, I go, well, wait a minute, okay. 50% of women are going to develop dementia, 50%, one out of two.

I go, maybe those of us that are having these cognitive problems from early menopause, during menopause, perimenopause, are we the ones that are going to get dementia? So this was before I had clear cognitive symptoms. I just had that word finding problem. And sure enough, of course, that turns out to be one factor for people in their brains, is the loss of the trophic support from the hormones. The brain can degenerate. And subsequently, I’ve learned that, actually, the brain makes its own hormones.

So not just our sexual organs making the hormones, but the brain also makes estrogen and progesterone. And so, if your brain is functioning normally, it should make those hormones. But what happens if something is inflaming your brain or infecting your brain or toxins in your brain? Then it’s going to disrupt that part as well. So, for me, once I learned all that I learned about hormones, I went on hormone support and dialed in all of the hormones. And I can tell you that I never intend to stop my hormones.

I lost my brain once and I’m not going to be stopping those hormones. And when you take the hormones at this point in life after menopause, you don’t need to be your hormones at the level of a 20-year-old, but maybe the level of a 40-year-old. The middle of the range is where we look at to help support people’s brain. So the hormones were another factor.

Michael:

So hormones, nutrients, like vitamins, nutrients, fat, gut healing, stress reduction. Would you say those were the pillars of your own …

Dr. Kat Toups:

And there’s more.

Michael:

There’s more?

Dr. Kat Toups:

There’s more layers. So then you learned about toxins and metals and infections. So I do my … We, Great Plains labs, came out with our toxin panel some years back. So I do my toxin panel. And guess what? I had tons of two things in the red and a whole bunch of things in the orange and the yellow. A lot of toxins, kind of no surprise. I don’t detoxify well, which is why I got sick and allergic to everything. And I’d already learned about methylation and supported my methylation system to help some of that detoxification. But then I find out, I have all these toxins.

And then I find out, okay, gosh, I have pretty high levels of lead. Lead can affect your hearing. Lead definitely affects the brain. It’s a neurotoxin, causes neural degeneration. So had to add in more stuff for detoxification, which is kind of … That’s an ongoing process. When you have things like lead, you’re working on that for years and years. It’s in your bones and it’s a lifelong, always doing something for detox, adding in sauna for the sweating. We know, of course, now that the sweating will mobilize metals and toxins from our system.

And that’s worked really well for a lot of my patients. I never ate seafood. I just have an aversion to seafood, so I wasn’t high in mercury. I did have mercury fillings growing up, but I had removed those before I was ever really sick. So detox with all those chemicals and toxins. Then you come to the infections. And there’s a lot of viruses and now we’ve learned this with COVID. COVID has validated the kind of work that I’m doing, because I look at all kinds of infections in the brain as some of the contributors to dimension or degeneration.

But now we’re seeing so many people get COVID, and even young people are having brain fog, losing their sense of smell. So you know it’s degenerating your brain and fighting that track into your brain. But there are many, many viruses and bacterial infections that like to live in that fatty, hospitable brain tissue. And I mean, I’ve researched that. And I probably don’t have all of them, but I have a two-page list of things that I found so far, so testing some of the biggies in myself and finding some high levels of viral titers. And I’ve had to treat Epstein Barr.

And actually, these viruses, you probably know this, but we don’t eradicate them. When we get them, we got them. They integrate into our systems, and we need our immune system strong to just keep them in check. And when our immune systems aren’t working as mine was, and I think I didn’t tell you, but all my immunoglobulins were low. So I had all these immunoglobulin deficiencies at that time and low T cells. And I mean, my immune system was not pretty. So then these viruses wake up and they reactivate, and then they cause you trouble again.

And when they’re in your brain and they’re active, then your immune system is designed to try to kill them, but they kill it by creating inflammation. And then if it’s there for long periods of time, that inflammation will start killing your neurons. So I had to do things to try to knock down the viral titers. And then, ultimately, I …

Michael:

Were you self-treating? Or did you work with a functional medicine practitioner?

Dr. Kat Toups:

Yeah, I did. When I was really, really sick, I had people that I worked with. I consulted, in the beginning, a lot with Tom [inaudible 00:53:46], one of my IFM teachers who was super helpful. And so, I would have consult with different people. But back then, it wasn’t so easy even to just find a functional medicine doctor. So a lot of it was uncovering, treating myself. And as needed, I would consult with people. And then at one point, I mean, I never tested positive for Lyme disease. So many of our tests are very flawed, and especially when, like me, I don’t make immunoglobulins.

So I don’t make antibodies to things very well, so it doesn’t show up in the testing. But it turned out, I had had scans through the years from having complicated migraines and the hearing loss, so worried about tumors. So I had a couple of scans with that. And I have a lesion in my brain. There’s two, one bigger than the other, but you could see through the years that that lesion was getting slightly bigger, slightly bigger. And so, finally, I consulted with two different neuro radiology people, and they said, “This is a demyelinating lesion and I think it’s from Lyme disease.”

So it’s just like one more layer. It’s just many, many factors. So it’s just sequentially finding these things, working out this way. Now what I know, I could have healed myself so much faster. Because now I know all these things. And so, when I get a new patient, I just test … If I get somebody that’s really sick and broken like I was, I’ll test everything upfront. Get the template, okay, now I can see, oh, this seems wrong. And then you figure out what is your best order to work through them. But you can work through these layers more quickly if you know all of the factors.

I just had to learn it one thing at a time by myself. Now, we mentioned the dementia research study that I just completed, we completed it, the one with Dale Bredesen and two other investigators. We completed it in December, and we’re working on the data analysis now. But we had patients with mild cognitive impairment or early dementia, and it was a nine months study. So I only had nine months to move the needle. And so we do all the testing upfront. And I really learned a lot by seeing actually how fast things can shift.

If you go for court press, if you have somebody that’s committed, and they had to be committed to be in the study, they had to be criteria, they had to commit to doing all of the things that we needed, and there were a lot of things. It wasn’t an easy study, but I had some people in three months that would have sky high CLPs come down to normal and hemoglobin A1Cs with their blood sugar in total like 5.8 or 5.9 come down to like 5.1 or 5.2 in three months. And I think …

Michael:

So those are inflammation and blood sugar markers [inaudible 00:56:43].

Dr. Kat Toups:

Yeah, yeah. And so, when I’m dealing with a bunch of things aggressively and they’re doing their diet aggressively and they exercise every day, and we use some HeartMath for the meditative components since it’s easy to learn and gave them a certain number of minutes. And so, when they’re doing all the factors, it was really eye opening to me how quickly some of these people could shift. And over the nine months, some of them were dramatically better early on. And some of them got better and they would continue to get better over the time.

But the important thing of all of that is that all of my patients were improving in a study with mild cognitive impairment or early dementia. So, remember, I told you the metric of a positive study is if they didn’t decline as fast as normal. I mean, I’m so excited. I can’t wait until we have this data analyzed and put out there for publication for people to actually see our numbers and see what happened. With these patients [crosstalk 00:57:45] …

Michael:

When is that going to happen?

Dr. Kat Toups:

We’re working on it right now. I’m almost finished with the data log to give to the neuro psychology professor to do the statistic lift.

Michael:

But it’s quite a bit the process of getting from the numbers to the professor, to the review, to the publishing, to the …

Dr. Kat Toups:

It shouldn’t be that. We’re trying to move as fast as we can move. So we’re hoping to get everything done, and the paper written maybe within the next 30 days. And then it’s going to be trying to submit to some high powered mainstream journals and see what they say, but it’s so exciting. And I mean, I don’t know, at least four or five of those patients. I had 10 at my site, maybe 6 of those patients. They wouldn’t even qualify to be in a study anymore. I mean, some of them test better than I do. They had dramatic improvements. And some of them are definitely improved.

But it’s a work in progress. I mean, basically, there were reasons that all of their brains were degenerating, multiple reasons for all of them, and they have to keep working the program. You can’t just say, okay, now I can go back and stop exercising and stop meditating and eat what I want. Time will tell who stays with it, who doesn’t, what happens.

Michael:

That’s really encouraging. I can’t wait to see it. There’s so many people that need to see the positive results and what’s possible in the research. And I know you guys, you can’t really talk about it necessarily till it’s published. So I’m not going to ask you to bend any [crosstalk 00:59:23].

Dr. Kat Toups:

I can give you those generalities.

Michael:

Yeah, the generalities. Yeah, for sure. And I know the rules about studies and things, but people are probably going to be …

Dr. Kat Toups:

I can just say that it’s … Yeah, it’s super …

Michael:

… blown away.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Well, it’s super exciting. Dale Bredesen called me last night and he goes, “Could you write up four case studies?” He goes, “These four patients of yours started out as frank dementia, right?” Their MoCA scores, which MoCA now has taken over from the Mini-Mental status. But they’re like 18, 19. And there’s some of them that went from 18, 19 to 30. I have several of those. 30 is perfect.

Michael:

Wow.

Dr. Kat Toups:

But he is better than I would get. Trust me.

Michael:

That’s amazing.

Dr. Kat Toups:

But you go forward [crosstalk 00:59:56].

Michael:

And how long was the time?

Dr. Kat Toups:

Well, it was the nine months study.

Michael:

Nine months. Yeah, that’s incredible. And so, if you’re not really putting all the pieces together right now of what she’s been saying, it’s that you can reverse dementia and …

Dr. Kat Toups:

Dementia in remission.

Michael:

Yeah, and this is something that I didn’t know until fairly recently. I had it lumped in with the conditions that, oh, once you have that, it’s just about trying to slow the cascade, which is what you said. This is what your understanding of it before you went through all of this, was we’re just trying to slow the cascade, we’re trying to slow the decline, we’re trying to give them as many good years as we can, keep them lucid for their families. It was kind of a palliative almost, like a long term palliative care in a sense.

And what we’re learning now in this conversation and then the work that you’re doing is that that’s not true. And we’re not trying to imply. I’ll speak for you here, we’re not trying to imply that this is easy …

Dr. Kat Toups:

No.

Michael:

… that it’s really simple, that you snap your fingers and the dementia goes backwards. But that with the right approach, it is possible to reverse cognitive decline.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Absolutely. And I think that it is important to partner with a physician that can help you with all the appropriate testing. And it’s the criticism of functional medicine, oh, they test too much. Well, how can we know? How can I know all those things were wrong with me if I didn’t have all those metrics of testing? So I’m a big believer of testing, but I’m testing things that are actionable. I’m testing things that, okay, now I can do something about that. Oh, your mercury is sky high.

No problem, I’m going to take you off a fish for a few months and give you some broccoli extract and have you do sauna and sweating. And I can see their mercuries come down to nothing in three to six months by that approach. You have to test to know these things. And you don’t want to be taking every potential supplement that you want to tailor it to what do you need, right?

Michael:

Yeah, the blanket approach can get very expensive and very wasteful a lot of the time too. The testing lets you know where to aim at least, instead of tons of unnecessary supplements and protocols and things, so …

Dr. Kat Toups:

That’s one of the things that I have a chapter in the book that I’m working on, and it’s changed since I started it, the testing that I do. But I have all that information really clearly that I hope to share with people, like for doctors to know what to test and for the patients to know what they should be asking their doctors to test. Because much of this testing can be gotten through traditional insurance if your doctor will order it and can write the appropriate codes to justify why you need it. But if you’re having a neurodegenerative disorder, you need it.

Or a serious immune disorder, you need to look at all these things. Metals can cause immune disorder. Toxins can cause immune disorder. Infections can cause immune disorder. Unregulated blood sugar and lipids can kill everything. So you just have to look at all those layers to make sure. And if you don’t have them, you check it off.

Michael:

Well, the [crosstalk 01:03:14] is going to be huge.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Yeah, but …

Michael:

It’s going to be a huge resource for people, and it’s incredible. You’re still working with patients and you’re doing the study. Dr. Bredesen also trains physicians, correct? He trains doctors. There’s a protocol that he created or a training that people can go through.

Dr. Kat Toups:

He did just restart that. He started his own protocol training way back when, because I did all that with him in the beginning. And then he did it as part of IFM for a while. And then they quit doing that. And so, now, he just has launched something in this past year as part of his … Now, his group is called Apollo. I think it’s called Apollo Health. And so he just started a … It’s new, and I do know a couple …

Michael:

For doctors?

Dr. Kat Toups:

… of colleagues that are doing that training there.

Michael:

Okay, great. I know people will ask. They’ll want to know how to find a doctor that’s literate in this stuff. When people have asked me in the past, before I met you, I would tell them to look for Bredesen protocol trained doctors who were familiar, and that would at least be a good ground, a good base of …

Dr. Kat Toups:

Well, I mean, there’s still not enough and doing the training is not enough. So if you really haven’t done all the functional medicine training or something equivalent, IFM is not the only game in town. But you need a physician that understands toxins, infections, hormones, nutrients, gut health, stress reduction. So, an advanced functional medicine practitioner who has done this for a while and really knows how to work through these layers, they don’t necessarily have to have done the Bredesen training. But it’s just really knowing how to assess everything and then peel all those layers of the onion to let the health come back and everything come back.

Michael:

Amazing. It’s just incredible, and it’s for people who have relatives or loved ones or partners or themselves or anyone who have faced these diagnoses. It’s a punch in the gut. It is a big diagnosis to get. I mean, I don’t like to compare diseases, but it’s something you don’t want to hear from your doctor that, oh, we think you have early onset dementia or Alzheimer’s or something. That’s not a good day when you hear those words. And this work is really … And others, I mean, you too don’t have the monopoly as the only ones working in this area.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Of course, not.

Michael:

But there are a lot of people doing this work. And if we can shift that from this is how it’s going to be for you to this is how it could be for you and this is what you can choose or not, and then really empower people to realize that. I mean, I don’t want to call this a secret, but I can guarantee you that most people don’t know about this still at this point. And so it’s getting the word out, it’s sharing the information, it’s getting the book out on the market, it’s getting the studies published, and then people like myself being really loud about it and telling everybody that watches our stuff.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Yeah, and [crosstalk 01:06:20].

Michael:

I mean, you’ve run the gamut. I mean, you were working with patients and studying patients who had these conditions and you were watching them not get better, you’re watching these drugs fail, these studies fail. So you’d witnessed what it does, you’ve witnessed these people decline, then you get the symptoms, then there was probably it can’t be me, it can’t be this, and then it was. And I’m sure that wasn’t a great thing to hear and it was scary and it was overwhelming.

And then you’re trying to learn functional medicine while you’re dealing with cognitive decline, which I learned functional medicine in full mental capacity and it’s very hard. But once you started to see turning the corner, once you started to notice like, I feel a lot better, I have way more energy, my skin is not reacting to everything that I eat, I’m not forgetting all my words, I’m able to do my work, I’m back in the office. That has to just be so empowering. You went through the scary and the frustrating and the hard and came out. What is that like to know that where you were to where you are now and what’s possible?

Dr. Kat Toups:

I mean, I do believe that it was my path to go through that. God or the higher power said, you need to learn this from the inside out. And I learned all those layers. As I said, I had some of everything wrong almost. I didn’t have bad lipids, but I had everything else. Actually, I did have one bad lipid that’s a genetic kind that I had to deal with. Definitely, when you go through it yourself, now I see that … I mean, okay, it took a lot of my life and all my savings because I couldn’t work and my kid was in college.

But I came out of it definitely on the other side with my brain back and relaunched a whole new career, doing functional medicine, what a pivot. And so, in some ways, it’s a blessing. It opened up so much for me to be a much more effective healer and to help empower people to heal. Because I’m not just telling you what I learned, I’m telling you that I did this myself. I know these horrors. And in a time when you’re in it, you’re just trying to survive. I mean, if you ask me, was I scared? I actually was too overwhelmed to be scared. I was just trying every day to …

Michael:

Yeah. I’ve been there with that with [crosstalk 01:09:00].

Dr. Kat Toups:

… get the brain to function. And there finally came a time where I can go and do one thing in a day. And I’m like, oh, I can do one thing a day. And then suddenly, I could do two things in a day. So it was definitely a whole incremental process. Can I say that am I totally well and fine? No. When you have immune disorder, it’s a process. You have to still manage it. Things can come and go, but I am 1000% better, 1000%, not 100%, as far as my brain functioning.

And so, I’m so grateful to all of the community of people that have the brains and the guts and the passion to bring functional medicine here. And then it’s been my privilege to support other people on this path, other practitioners. Because, gosh, we need all of medicine to embrace this. Yes, we need a place for surgery and infectious disease doctors, of course, but do we …

Michael:

Yeah, but conventional medicines management of chronic diseases leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Dr. Kat Toups:

We didn’t train them that. We really just give a diagnosis and give a pill or make a surgical intervention, that is the training. So that would be the next frontier, is how can we make inroads into the medical schools? And that is happening to a small extent. I mean, I do have some colleagues that are doing some courses. One of my functional medicine group members teaches at USC with some of the integrative and functional stuff. And I believe Datis Kharrazian and Ari Vojdaniwere both teaching at UC Irvine, and another functional medicine practitioner I know was teaching at UC Irvine. So I know they have an integrative program that at least gives people electives to look at other integrative methods, but I do think that’s …

Michael:

It’s definitely growing.

Dr. Kat Toups:

If we can get them in training, so that they don’t have to undo all the things that they learned that turn out not to be correct. Because so many things were told to us as dogma, but then when you learn something different, you see research to the contrary and you say, well wait, I learned that. And then you look it up and there’s not data to support things that I learned as dogma.

Michael:

Well, the data that you’re creating with Dr. Bredesen will be data that can be pointed to. And that’s what I think it’s not as sexy and flashy and all these things to do these clinical studies, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of … I mean, just what happened with you this weekend with your numbers and the data and the thing you texted me that you were up all night fixing numbers on a spreadsheet. But that data, studies, clinical studies and data is what shifts the conventional medicine and the medical schools and the way things are treated. Because they want to see the data, the anecdotal studies or stories of, oh, I was this and then I’m this. You can create it and prove it and somebody else can recreate it, they don’t care.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right, exactly.

Michael:

Just like, oh, well, then you were misdiagnosed. Then you couldn’t have actually had dementia. Because I’ve met people who have been told that too by their doctor, oh, we misdiagnosed you.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Sure. Sure. Or Parkinson’s or MS, people that have healed their [crosstalk 01:12:29].

Michael:

Yeah. That Terry Wahls never actually had MS. Somebody else we’re interviewing for this season too is Dr. Wahls, and he’s received a lot of criticism too. “Oh, you must have had a misdiagnosis. You can’t go from a wheelchair to riding bikes with MS.” And she just smiles at them and says, “Okay,” and now she’s doing the studies like you guys are doing them in Iowa.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right, exactly.

Michael:

And it takes everybody together, people with the megaphone and getting the news out, the publishers of the books, the people doing the studies, the clinicians actually working with the patients. It’s a machine that needs to have all the parts pulling and moving and growing. Thank you for everything you’re contributing to that. If they want to find … I have your website, dementiademystified.com. Is that still the best place for people to-

Dr. Kat Toups:

Yeah, that will direct you [crosstalk 01:13:17].

Michael:

That’s where your news, info, programs, your book is going to be there. I’m assuming once the research is published, it’ll be up there too.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Yeah, that’s a good idea. In the meantime, I have a YouTube channel where I put some of my talks and …

Michael:

Yup, you just look for Kat Toups, MD on YouTube. That’s there. You have enough people that YouTube lets you use your own name on your channel, so you’ve hit the big time.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a big time, but …

Michael:

No. She had the YouTube channel.

Dr. Kat Toups:

… it helps stuff to refer people to. I have a talk. I gave one of the national medical conferences age management for medicine group in 2019. And so, I was able to purchase the video of that from the conference and put it on there and that goes through.

Michael:

That’s a great …

Dr. Kat Toups:

That’s a talk that I give to doctors. It shows you all the labs and et cetera. It’s a technical talk. And then I have a …

Michael:

Very useful for practitioners. So if you’re a practitioner watching this, check that out, for sure.

Dr. Kat Toups:

Yeah. And then whatever, if I have any podcast things that can be shared, I put them on there. And then I have a Facebook group or we’re at Facebook group where I just try to share positive studies as we learn things. I try to stay away from the doom and gloom. We don’t want to hear the doom and gloom. We want to know how can we get better. So I try to post interesting research that catches my eye.

Michael:

Is that your Kat Toups, MD, functional psychiatry and dementia on Facebook?

Dr. Kat Toups:

That’s it, yeah.

Michael:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So search for that on Facebook. We’ll have links too on the show notes and everything on the post, so you can find the clicks just below. I just like to say them out loud at least once. So check out the website, the Facebook, the YouTube. We’ll get any other links for you that are relevant. Once the study comes out and it’s published, we’ll get it below. So depending on when you’re watching this, you can just scroll down and click it, because we’d like to …

Dr. Kat Toups:

Yeah. And we have funding now for the next study.

Michael:

That’s great. Amazing [crosstalk 01:15:14].

Dr. Kat Toups:

For our bigger study, our bigger study.

Michael:

And that, I know you can’t talk about exact results, but I know this much about clinical research and studies, is that study number two doesn’t get funded unless there’s pretty positive results in study number one, and …

Dr. Kat Toups:

It will be positive. I can tell you that.

Michael:

It’s always a good news. When I hear somebody study like, oh, they got another study funded or there’s two more studies funded, then I always know that what they’re doing is working because people don’t dump money into studies that are not showing promise. So I can’t wait to see. I’m so excited. Thank you so much for sharing. I know you’re in the middle of it right now. So when people see those studies, right now, it’s the crunch time where you guys are getting all the moving pieces put together and out and getting to publishers, and you’re still working on your book. So I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story. I just think it’s so important that people hear these stories from those who are [crosstalk 01:16:08].

Dr. Kat Toups:

Right. I like to leave it at dementia is not a death sentence.

Michael:

Yeah, thank you.

Dr. Kat Toups:

I mean, that’s the paradigm shift that I want people to believe. And we’re not 100%. We can’t help everybody out, but so many people can be helped reversed. And so, just shifting from that particular dogma is the most important thing for people to believe. You can’t get well if you don’t believe.

Michael:

Absolutely. That’s why we’re leading with that, with this first season in the podcast, is all about belief and inspiration and seeing that it can be done. And we’ll talk later more about how to do it. But this is just about seeing it firsthand, and you’re a living example of it. So thank you, and thank you for paying it forward. A lot of people helped you and …

Dr. Kat Toups:

They did. They did. I’ve been blessed to have such wonderful community. And I wouldn’t be here today without all of them. I would be drooling in a nursing home a long time ago. It’s …

Michael:

Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Toups. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you. Your story is so inspiring. And the work you’re doing is incredible. And I’m grateful that I get to even get your ear for a little bit to hear about it and to help share it, and then get the word out to rally the troops, to keep this moving forward and keep more studies happening and more books coming out, more people realizing that dementia is not a death sentence. So thank you so much. I look forward to [crosstalk 01:17:38].

Dr. Kat Toups:

Thank you, Michael, appreciate you and all that you do to share all this with everybody. Super great.

Michael:

Alright. Thank you. And this brings us to the end of today’s episode, head on over to rebelhealthtribe.com\kit to access the RHT quickstart funnel, which includes four full length presentations, from our HT masterclasses, two downloadable PDF guides, and a 15% off coupon which you can use in our retail shop. If you’re on Facebook, come join our Rebel Health Tribe group over there. And finally, if you liked the show, please subscribe, leave a review, and share with your friends. Thanks for joining us. I’ll see you again soon.