The Natural Evolution Podcast

Season 2

Episode 22

S2E22 – Harnessing the Power of Your Physiology : Blood Sugar, Hormones, and Lifestyle with Brie Wieselman

Millions of women experience a variety of similar physical and mental symptoms, accepting that “feeling crazy” is their new normal – but it doesn’t have to be. 

Brie Wieselman, LAc, MTCM and her clinical team, know that identifying all of your root causes can be a frustrating, overwhelming, and confusing process to do on your own, so they’re here to help you get to the bottom of it all. After all, you’re worthy of a life outside of your symptoms. 

In this episode, we break down a couple of common hormones, discuss how blood sugar is an important part of the equation, the “chicken or the egg” situation between hormones and mental health, and the role gut health plays in it all.

  • To learn more about Brie and her practice, visit her website.
  • To find daily inspiration, follow her on Instagram: @briewieselman or on Facebook

Interest in more? Get two free bonus guides by clicking the links below!

Head over to https://rebelhealthtribe.com/kit to get a free download of our loaded quick start guide to help you along your healing journey.  If you like us, subscribe, review, and share us with your friends, and come join our Rebel Health Tribe group on Facebook.

Listen to Episode #22

Brie Wieselman, LAc, breaks down hormones and how blood sugar is an important part of the equation. We tackle the infamous “chicken or the egg” situation between hormones and mental health, plus the critical role gut health plays in all of it.
Play Video

About our Guest

Brie Wieselman, LAc, MTCM is a licensed primary care provider and medical director of Brie Wieselman Integrative Health. For the past 14 years, she has paved the way for quality functional care, working with thousands of clients across the globe, from Dubai to California, to Mozambique to Japan, empowering them with a personalized map for understanding and transforming their health.

Besides being an expert in hormone balance and fertility optimization, she specializes in helping people heal digestive problems such as IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, parasitic infections, Candida overgrowth, and SIBO to rebuild a bulletproof microbiome.

Prior to founding the clinic, she spent several years specializing in the integrative treatment of infertility and sub-fertility at several IVF centers and fertility practices in the San Francisco Bay Area (Nurture Acupuncture, Reproductive Science Center of the Bay area, Thrive Acupuncture), and also in a local clinic specializing in the Integrative treatment of Hepatitis C.

Brie enjoys teaching and speaking, and regularly appears on various podcasts, summits, live events and documentaries as an expert on the topics of women’s health and digestive wellness. Her post-medical-degree education in Functional Medicine has been primarily through The Kalish Institute, The Institute for Functional Medicine, and the Kharrazian Institute, although she keeps up-to-date with the latest discoveries and innovations by attending various continuing education seminars with the brightest minds in Functional Medicine.

Subscribe to The Natural Evolution Podcast

Brie Wieselman

Share this Episode

Recent Podcasts

S3E3 – Sustainable Healing Through Functional Medicine with Kirkland Newman

S3E2 – Changing the Game Plan: Building Skincare Success from Personal Tragedy with Andy Hnilo

S3E1 – Reboot your Brain: Exploring Flotation Therapy with Michael Cordova

S2E36 – Surviving Traditional Medicine in Search of the Right Healing Space with Dr. Jill Carnahan

S2E35 – A Unique Approach to Mental Health: Nutritional Psychology and Biochemical Imbalance with Dr. Josh Friedman

Related Podcasts

S3E1 – Reboot your Brain: Exploring Flotation Therapy with Michael Cordova

S2E36 – Surviving Traditional Medicine in Search of the Right Healing Space with Dr. Jill Carnahan

S2E32 – Integrative Oncology and the Unique Power of Mistletoe Therapy with Dr. Nasha Winters

Dr. Nasha Winters has educated hundreds of professionals on the clinical application of mistletoe. In

S2E31 – Finding Balance & Understanding Overtesting within Functional Medicine with Dr. Michael Ruscio

Dr. Michael Ruscio discusses the common misunderstandings surrounding lab testing, how overtesting in functional medicine

S2E29 – Our Modern Environment & the Intensifying Microplastics Problem with Emily Givler

Emily Givler, DSC covers all things environmental and epigenetic, including: the role of genetics in

Subscribe to The Natural Evolution Podcast

Want to jumpstart your journey to health & well-being?

Grab the RHT Quick Start Bundle Today!

Podcast Transcript

Michael Roesslein: We are finally recording. We just set the record for the longest amount of time talking before going on air, we’re at 50 minutes, which is impressive. That’s an impressive whole podcast. We should have recorded that, it would be its own podcast, but this is going to be fun. I’m here with Brie, Brie Wieselman is a friend of mine and also a board-certified primary care provider.

Michael Roesslein:

So, we’re going to talk health things now and learn about hormones and anxiety and her story a little bit, and blood sugar, and how these things all play a role in how we experience what we’re going through in life, from what lens and what perception. And I think anxiety is something that, especially given the last couple years, if there’s anyone listening to this that has not experienced any anxiety in the last two years, I would probably want to check a pulse.

Michael Roesslein:

So, before we go though, I’m going to do a little intro, because not everybody knows you as well as I do. So, Brie runs an online functional medicine clinic that focuses on helping women to optimize their health, so that they can have more powerful impact in the world and take full pleasure in their success. She also sees men. I just want to throw that out there, guys. Don’t turn this off, you’re going to learn cool stuff too. And besides being an expert in hormone balance, she specializes in helping people heal digestive problems, such as IBS, ulcerative colitis, parasitic infections, candida overgrowth, and SIBO, to rebuild a bulletproof microbiome. She’s a licensed acupuncturist. What’s MTCM? Is that Chinese medicine?

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah, that’s a Chinese medicine certification.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay. Is a board certified primary care provider, functional medicine practitioner, and the clinical director of Brie Wieselman Integrative Health, a groundbreaking virtual clinic supporting individuals across the US and across the world. And we just spent 45 minutes talking about traveling and things across the world and languages, and sheep and cheese.

Michael Roesslein:

So, now we are going to talk about something else which is more relevant to this podcast and that is … First, welcome, thanks for coming to do this and I know how busy you are, so I appreciate the time and always enjoy it.

Brie Wieselman:

Thanks for having me. Just an aside, I feel like we could just say, “Okay, and everyone move to Italy.” And shortcut the rest of what I have to say.

Michael Roesslein:

We could. And then, including you. And then we’ll record from here in a couple weeks and take them to see the sheep and the cheese.

Brie Wieselman:

[crosstalk 00:02:34].

Michael Roesslein:

And that’ll have an impact on hormones. So, your jam is really hormones and gut stuff. And sometimes people look at those as two separate things, and nothing is two separate things when it comes to chronic disease or rebuilding health, and especially hormones and gut stuff. So, we’re going to learn about some correlations there, but hormones became an interest and a focus of yours mostly out of necessity. Right?

Brie Wieselman:

Absolutely. I mean, so what I’ll say is, it was something that I got called to do early in my medical training. So, there was two things that happened a little bit simultaneously. One was that I was seeing people in clinic and realizing that, and this was in my medical training, that 75% of the time, some level of anxiety, panic or trauma were present in the room. Even if it wasn’t the main thing the person was seeking support for. Right?

Brie Wieselman:

So, you got 44 to 50% of people who come in seeking help for IBS, almost anyone with fertility challenges or autoimmunity, chronic health issues. And so, in my practice, I see a lot of people who come in because of things named endometriosis or histamine intolerance, all those things, but then there’s, and then it’s, “And also I have anxiety or panic.” Right? And so, these things are just there and having tools to help shift them, can carve out bandwidth and space for people to work on the other underlying root causes or to have space to even look at the traumas that might be underlying all of it.

Brie Wieselman:

We were talking about how hormones in and of themself are rarely a root cause, which is a little controversial to say, because they’re definitely a big contributor, but hormones are responders, right? They’re the language our body uses to talk to itself and send messages around to the different regions, bio regions, to tell them, “Hey, here’s what’s up. Here’s what I’m seeing out here. You guys seeing that over here? Here’s how I think we should respond.” So, they’re a little bit of the canary in the coal mine. So, anyway, that’s-

Michael Roesslein:

They get blamed for the dysfunction that is present a lot of the time, when really they’re just communicator molecules.

Brie Wieselman:

Exactly.

Michael Roesslein:

It’s like blaming the messenger, sort of.

Brie Wieselman:

Exactly. Blaming the messenger. Yeah. So, I mean, how I really got into this was that hormone issues and figuring out that they were hormone issues, literally changed and saved my life. So, my backstory is that, as with many people with health conditions, I have trauma early in life. And my trauma, I’m very fortunate to say, it’s kind of, I call it lowercase T trauma versus capital T trauma. And what I mean by that is mine was medical, not as much psycho-spiritual, emotional, maybe.

Brie Wieselman:

But I had a really dicey birth situation. I’ve done hypnosis regressions where I felt like there were aliens looking at me in a case, which was probably the lights I was under and all that stuff. But I’ve had asthma at a really young age, secondary to light mold exposure, genetics, some overhead pesticide spraying. And then I also have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS, which no one would’ve known when I was born. It’s not something we know until women are of reproductive age or even older, but it’s genetic. And clearly, it was not impacting my ovulation at that time, it’s basically a disorder of infrequent ovulation and a bunch of other things.

Brie Wieselman:

But the connection is that people with PCOS have more frequent mood and depression, anxiety, and a higher cortisol response to stressors than other people. So, I had great doctors. My asthma doctor gave me meditations to do, but it was like this barrage of medications, being rushed to the ER for not breathing, sitting out for sports and recess, medications through a nebulizer three times a day. It was very isolating and felt like being different. And then the stimulants contained in the meds that were keeping me alive were basically speed, and they made me hypervigilant and trained my body to this sympathetic dominance.

Brie Wieselman:

So, that was great for doing well at school and you got to put that energy somewhere, but basically it’s now what is being called high functioning anxiety, which is a funny term, but with some OCD components, right? So, fast forward-

Michael Roesslein:

The terms we create, and by we, I mean Western, I don’t know, medical, conventional science, are increasingly hilarious to me, as I start to learn actual root causes of some of these things and what’s actually going on. Because if, for example, somebody’s child passes away tragically and then their mother dies, and then they lose their job, and then something happens. And then they will give that person a label as like manic depressive disorder or some sort of disorder.

Michael Roesslein:

And it’s like, they’re going through a lot of shit right now that’s very, very, very hard. They don’t have a disorder. Yeah, anyways. Let’s pump this kid full stimulants and then tell them that they’re hyperactive disorder and this disorder.

Brie Wieselman:

[crosstalk 00:07:57].

Michael Roesslein:

And it’s like, man, no, it’s not a disorder. It’s the body’s absolutely perfect response to the situation.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. Well, and I just think the name high-functioning anxiety implies that there’s low-functioning anxiety, which is basically just, you haven’t reached a breakdown yet. Right?

Michael Roesslein:

But I think low-functioning anxiety is like mental breakdown, like can’t function. I’ve been there too.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. Oh, for sure.

Michael Roesslein:

For me, low-functioning anxiety looks like rocking on the couch and doing nothing when I should be doing 27,000 things. I’ve been there.

Brie Wieselman:

Totally.

Michael Roesslein:

But that’s also not a term, that’s being frozen, you’re overstimulated. Anyways.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah, anyways.

Michael Roesslein:

We could go on a side rant, but okay.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah, we could go on all [crosstalk 00:08:39]. Yeah, anyways.

Michael Roesslein:

So, your experience as a child with significant asthma, serious asthma, sounds like pretty dangerous, life threatening asthma-

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah, it was bad.

Michael Roesslein:

… being rushed to hospitals, going to doctors, having treatments, not being able to play things and do things that the other kids were doing, plus they gave you speed.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. And then-

Michael Roesslein:

So, you were a little anxious as a kid.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. Yeah. And then what happened was, when I hit my teens and was supposed to get a period, it didn’t come till I was 17. I didn’t know about PCOS, no one knew about PCOS, really. So, when it did come, it was always crazy irregular, six, nine months in between cycles and I would just get kind of crazy before and not know why, until I would randomly get a period.

Brie Wieselman:

And I started having anxiety, panic attacks. And then it turned into during my grad school, medical school years, this hellish insomnia for about six to eight years. So, basically, I sought help from a million people. And there were certain things that were pivots along the way. But I started seeing all of this reflected in my patients in clinic and was like, “Okay, I got to really nail this. I’m being called to answer what’s going on here.” And there was no one who could really, at the time, put it together in this full way.

Brie Wieselman:

So, there were definitely some things that helped, and I will say the first and foremost one was, you mentioned the blood sugar piece. So, I saw a naturopathic doctor around about the time that I was just totally losing it and I wasn’t going to be able to make it through school. I decided I was vegetarian when I was around age eight and then that turned into veganism in my angsty activist teens and early 20s.

Michael Roesslein:

Just because, like a moral vegan, you liked animals?

Brie Wieselman:

Moral, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Okay.

Brie Wieselman:

It wasn’t working out for my body and frankly, I wasn’t doing it necessarily in a way that was as healthy as I could have been, because I didn’t know much about nutrition. But what happened is that she said, “Okay, look, your blood sugar’s all over the place. So, we need to get you some protein and we need you to have a whole bunch more omegas and healthy fats.” And just those things were huge, because blood sugar has this huge impact on … I mean it basically, low blood sugar will mimic anxiety.

Brie Wieselman:

And what’s happening is our body attempts to bring our blood glucose levels up to normal, so we don’t die if we’re hunting and gathering, it’s kind of primal. And it does that by secreting adrenaline or epinephrine and that triggers glucose to be produced in the liver or liberated in the liver, and that increased adrenaline triggers fight or flight response in the body. So, that same biochemical process is also linked to anxiety or getting in gear to avoid something that might harm you.

Brie Wieselman:

So, when this happens repeatedly over time, more habitual low blood sugar can also encourage higher cortisol production or stress hormone or stress response hormone. And so, cortisol helps the tissues in your body be less responsive to insulin and that helps increase glucose circulation in our blood. So, high cortisol levels are also linked to anxiety in the long run.

Michael Roesslein:

Is it a healthy situation that isn’t bathed in stress? The main function of cortisol is to raise blood sugar. It is secreted when you’re low on blood sugar. So, it makes sense that it would not only spike blood sugar, but it would blunt insulin receptors, because the insulin, if anybody’s listening and doesn’t know, insulin receptors grab blood sugar.

Michael Roesslein:

So, if you blunt those, it would be a double-sided thing that it’s doing. It would raise the blood sugar by causing the release of some and it would stop the utilization or the absorption of it. So, then your blood sugar, in blood levels, would be up, and it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.

Brie Wieselman:

Exactly. But for the majority of our existence on the planet, we were in scenarios where it was going to make or break the outcome of us living or dying, if we could keep functioning and keep going, keep running, or our brain.

Michael Roesslein:

Using the sugar?

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. Using the sugar.

Michael Roesslein:

Because we didn’t have food and we didn’t-

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah.

Brie Wieselman:

And today’s world doesn’t look like that, because we have, if it were you-

Michael Roesslein:

Lots of food.

Brie Wieselman:

… we have huge shops and butcher at the fresh outdoor market, we can run down there any day of the week. So, anyway, bottom line is that blood sugar swings are hands down the biggest driver of fatigue, anxiety and mood swings, that I see in my work with thousands of people and also just inflammatory anything.

Brie Wieselman:

And so the first thing I do, even if someone is on a super limited diet, because they can only tolerate whatever, is to help people understand about balancing the ratios of high quality proteins, carbs, and fats that they eat in their diet. And just that step alone, before you run any labs, before you give them supplements for something, any of this stuff that gets more tinkery, we can see radical turnarounds just by tweaking things a little bit. So, that’s the blood sugar piece.

Michael Roesslein:

Cool. Yeah. I’ve seen blood sugar … I didn’t fully understand it. [Mira 00:13:48], for her last flare, ended up, she was on low-dose steroids for a long time, six months probably. And that wreaks hell on blood sugar regulation, especially, she’s not the world’s most regulated blood sugar person to begin with, but steroids definitely affect that in a very serious way.

Brie Wieselman:

Oh, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

And I would watch, real-time throughout the day, I could almost tell, I need to put food in her mouth right now. Just from just an immediate shift into a completely different person.

Brie Wieselman:

Oh my gosh.

Michael Roesslein:

And it’s not your fault when that happens. It’s like rage that can’t be…

Brie Wieselman:

Oh my gosh. It’s-

Michael Roesslein:

Remember there’s that animated, was it Pixar that made the movie with the little guys in your head?

Brie Wieselman:

Oh, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

The little cartoons.

Brie Wieselman:

Yes. Yes.

Michael Roesslein:

The rage one loves the low blood sugar.

Brie Wieselman:

Oh, it’s so funny. He was just hangry. You’re joking, but you’re not. I literally tell people, “If you don’t know if you have a blood sugar issue, let’s talk to your whatever, whoever you live with.” Or whatever. If you have one.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah.

Brie Wieselman:

Because literally-

Michael Roesslein:

Are you terrifying when you’re hungry?

Brie Wieselman:

Are you terrifying or dysfunctional in some way? I mean, basically it comes down to, when we eat our energy shouldn’t change. We shouldn’t get more energy and collectedness and calm than we have, or we shouldn’t-

Michael Roesslein:

Or need to go to bed-

Brie Wieselman:

Need to go bed.

Michael Roesslein:

… after a meal.

Brie Wieselman:

If one of those things are happening, there’s a blood sugar issue, period. So, you can run blood glucose and insulin sensitivity testing. You can run your HbA1c and your fasting glucose and insulin, or your LDH or GlycoMark. There’s all these other ways of assessing insulin tolerance, glucose level issues, but really that is the number one marker. So, blood sugar’s key. Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

We talked blood sugar. And then, people with anxiety … And if you’re listening to this from a different angle, some people, they know they have anxiety and they’ve either been to a psychologist or psychiatrist, maybe you’re on medication, maybe this has been a lifelong thing. And what I’m noticing now that I’ve shifted a lot of my own focus and energy and study and involvement to what I would call the other side of healing versus this side, being the functional medicine, nutrition, lifestyle, integrative health. The other side being the mental, emotional, spiritual trauma.

Michael Roesslein:

Just like not very many practitioners on the health side are super well versed on things over there, in the trauma and neuroscience world, and then what I’m learning now in working with a lot of people over there is that a concept like blood sugar impacting anxiety and mood and things like that, most of the people over there, both the professionals and what would be the equivalent of the patients or the clients, they don’t know that either. And so, someone could be trying to therapy away blood sugar related anxiety and blood sugar related mood swings … I mean, somebody with severe blood sugar swings could easily be labeled bipolar.

Brie Wieselman:

Oh, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Easily. And so, if you’ve been labeled that or anxiety, or any of these high-functioning … Any of this stuff, this is important to hear.

Brie Wieselman:

Oh, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Because, simply working on blood sugar regulation could make a massive difference in your mood and your energy and your partner’s wellbeing.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. I couldn’t say it better. I’ve absolutely seen that hundreds of times. So, the hormone that I really focus on next, if I may, is the progesterone. And so, there’s a story about this one too. So, these pieces didn’t happen all at once, right? Now, if it was me coming to see me, we’d run all these tests or we’d talk and I’d understand where to go much more quickly. But for me, this happened over a number of years, which is a lot of times how people figure this out.

Brie Wieselman:

So, I was in med school for Chinese medicine. I was focused ironically on treating people for fertility issues. And I thought I couldn’t conceive. I didn’t think I was fertile, because my cycles were still all over the place. I had no idea when or if I was ovulating yet. And so, I got pregnant. And surprise, it wasn’t intentional, but I got pregnant and it was this huge aha, because for the first time ever I knew what it felt like to fully inhabit my physical tissues of my body, in my skin. I felt heavy and grounded, calm, content, and sleepy, actually sleepy. It was divine. I was blissed out. And so, I was like, “Oh my God, this is what progesterone feels like.” Whoa, I got hit over the head with it and was like, “Oh gosh, I love this hormone.”

Michael Roesslein:

And I’m guessing, you’re not the only case in the world of a woman who was very deficient in progesterone, what causes that to happen?

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. So, there’s a lot of different reasons, but the primary one in women of reproductive age is anovulation. And so, just not ovulating, right? Because if we don’t ovulate, we’re not popping the egg out of the follicle in the ovary. And then what happens is that the little scar where that egg pops out of is called the corpus luteum and that becomes a hormonal manufacturing plant for a while, until the egg either gets fertilized or doesn’t and implants in the uterus lining or doesn’t. And then, either you get a period or you stay pregnant and the actual implanted embryo becomes hormonally active and makes its own hormones.

Brie Wieselman:

So, what happens is that progesterone, the intention of it from our body’s point of view is basically to help you get and stay pregnant, to maintain a pregnancy and hold the lining so that you don’t get a bleed. And so, if you’re not ovulating, you’re not having that corpus luteum form and then secrete all that juicy progesterone basically, to help you out. And so, there’s a lot of reasons why women might not ovulate, ranging from hypothalamic amenorrhea is basically when your brain says, “It’s not a good time for you to get pregnant, so we’re not going to let you ovulate.” And that usually is related to either overtraining, undereating, extremely high stress. Some other things like that.

Brie Wieselman:

The most common reason of anovulation is polycystic ovarian syndrome. They estimate 10% of women are on the spectrum. There’s different ways PCOS manifests. But so, what happens is, as I explained before, that is a disorder where it’s often linked to insulin and insulin signaling, insulin resistance of some level. It can be more of an adrenal thing. That’s a whole nother discussion and we can go in depth about PCOS, but basically, it inhibits regular ovulation.

Brie Wieselman:

And so, at that time for me, because some women with PCOS can … Now I have a regular cycle. It comes every month. Yada, yada. And some women do, but a lot of women, the hallmark can be irregular periods. And so, I personally had the cumulative progesterone exposure at that point of like a postmenopausal woman, at around age 22 or 23. It was wild when I actually measured it.

Brie Wieselman:

So, I measured it. After that experience, I measured progesterone when I wasn’t pregnant and started taking cyclical, bioidentical progesterone, and really dove into studying that and using it in clinic with phenomenal results for all kinds of things in women. So, your brain has receptors for your sex hormones, right? And so, they’re clearly able to influence brain function and mood, and women with low progesterone levels are really prone to anxiety. There’s an increase in anxiety and frequency of panic attacks during PMS, post-childbirth, peri-menopause and menopause, for the reason of these are times when we see drops in progesterone, sudden drops or big drops.

Brie Wieselman:

And progesterone has a connection to the neurotransmitter GABA. So, progesterone, and basically it’s metabolite, allopregnanolone, it’s one of the metabolites of progesterone, act as a natural antidepressant and enhanced mood and alleviate anxiety. And it does this by activating the GABA-A receptors, basic modulating the receptors, so that they’re more receptive to GABA, which is our feel good, calming neurotransmitter. It’s the only neurotransmitter we have that’s technically inhibitory or calms activity in the brain. And so, GABA basically promotes sleep and a sense of calm and wellbeing.

Michael Roesslein:

Big fan.

Brie Wieselman:

I love GABA. It’s like if I had to pick one, right? So, the more progesterone you have, the more GABA you’ll produce and accept. And so, that is huge.

Michael Roesslein:

So, then low progesterone is then you don’t have the inhibitor GABA that calms, and calms everything down.

Brie Wieselman:

Exactly. Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

And if you combine the low progesterone with the blood sugar dysregulation, which is common, those things together, due to stress and … The same things that cause one tend to cause the other.

Brie Wieselman:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly.

Michael Roesslein:

That’s a whole lot of feeling anxious and ungrounded and imbalanced and erratic.

Brie Wieselman:

It is, absolutely. And a lot of women with low progesterone levels have other signs than just anxiety. They might have sleep issues. They could have menstrual cramping, heavy bleeding, breast swelling, water retention, irregular periods or spotting, menstrual or premenstrual headaches or migraines. Those are some of the other symptoms, but often we’ll see this sleep, anxiety piece.

Brie Wieselman:

And what’s interesting is it’s not just the GABA thing. There’s this connection between progesterone and histamine, which is another big hormone for anxiety that doesn’t get talked about enough. So, histamine’s having a moment, right now, people are talking about histamine and histamine excess, and tolerance, what it does. So, it’s more on our radars, which is great. But basically what happens is that we have this hormone histamine, it’s also a neurotransmitter. It is a regulatory agent in our immune system and we need it for digestion to happen, so it’s not just a bad guy, but when you get too much histamine, you can often get symptoms of redness, irritation, allergic response, hives, swelling, all kinds of things.

Brie Wieselman:

And one of the things is that it basically is a stimulant, it’s a stimulating neurotransmitter in the brain. And so, I often see this, there’s a histamine type, right? So, people who have high histamine in the background tend to have a higher stress response and anxiety, panic, are often perfectionists. They have high expectations. They want things to be a certain way. And I’ll often see high levels of histamine in their blood.

Brie Wieselman:

And so, like I said, it’s excitatory when it crosses the blood-brain barrier and you’ll get this highly motivated, over achiever, inner anxiety, outer calm, maybe competitive, usually with themselves, and a little bit of a need for structure and strong routine, like ritualistic behavior to feel control over things. And so again, it goes back to that high-functioning anxiety.

Michael Roesslein:

If you’re feeling attacked out there, this isn’t personal.

Brie Wieselman:

I’m not attacking you at all. This is me. Anyone?

Michael Roesslein:

That same type of person would take things personally when they hear the things. So, this is not about you, whoever you are, listening.

Brie Wieselman:

I’m watching you.

Michael Roesslein:

No personal attacks. Yeah, Brie’s stalking you.

Brie Wieselman:

Oh yeah. Anyway, but the positives, just to turn it around, is that these people tend to be highly intelligent, super productive, and really successful in work and life. So, it could really work for them when it’s in balance. It’s just that when it gets out of balance, it’s poor stress tolerance, feelings of anxiety, insomnia, like that.

Brie Wieselman:

And so, the connection to progesterone is that so progesterone enhances the production of an enzyme called DAO, and allows us to secrete normal levels of it. And so, when we are estrogen dominant … Estrogen in higher levels promotes actually the release of histamine and receptivity to histamine. And so, what happens is that when we get a relative state of estrogen dominance, it increases the production of histamine relative to the production of the enzyme we use to break it down, and we can get symptoms related to excess of histamine.

Brie Wieselman:

So, you’ll often see that run in families, people who get a bunch of migraines and then anxiety, things like that. And women will tend to see this flare right before ovulation or moreso right before the menstrual cycle, because we’re naturally estrogen dominant at that time. So, if you get symptoms like that and you also get hives, flushing, sudden diarrhea, rashes, ear, nose, throat stuff, with itching or weepy or redness, migraines or heavy bleeding, those are other clues that histamine could be in the room too.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. So, it’s cool, because when we give people the bioidentical progesterone, it can tend to be one of the ways of approaching calming or mitigating that. Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Gotcha. I guess we covered how blood sugar, progesterone, histamine, and then how those three, I guess, levels of factors can contribute to really similar symptom profiles, and which leads to what you described there just a minute ago when everybody was attacked.

Michael Roesslein:

So, other than bioidentical progesterone, which if you’re interested in something like that, reach out to Brie or a practitioner who’s well-versed in these things. Please don’t just go find and start taking progesterone. I just want to throw out medical disclaimer right there.

Brie Wieselman:

Thank you for that.

Michael Roesslein:

I mean, because it can feel pretty overwhelming when you hear, “Oh my God, my hormones are messed up and my blood sugar’s probably screwy, and I don’t know what histamines are, but it sounds like I have those, and what is going on?” And this isn’t medical advice, this isn’t personalized. A lot of these things have pretty unique ways that you got to where you’re at. So, there’s going to be rather personalized ways to get yourself out of those situations.

Michael Roesslein:

But there’s definitely some things, I would think, that almost anyone would probably be better off for doing or not doing. So, a general foundational, a few tips or suggestions, or nutrients, or supplements, or practices, or things to avoid? If you were just going to give your top few, what would that look like?

Brie Wieselman:

Well, so some of them I already mentioned. I mean, looking at how we eat and balancing blood sugar, everyone can do that. And I have a handout that I can give to you to attach, people can just look at that, and it basically walks you through how to do that, no matter what kind of diet you’re on.

Michael Roesslein:

Sure.

Brie Wieselman:

So, that’s step one. Obviously, doing things like where you have empowerment around your sleep hygiene, getting adequate sleep and rest. And then, moving your body appropriately for you. It doesn’t mean everyone go out there and start doing CrossFit, but just moving, right? So, those are three basics, and hydration. So, those are across the board health steps.

Brie Wieselman:

The other things are, so I haven’t gotten into … Basically, when you’re working with a practitioner and looking at this, I would look at these hormone markers in blood and look at … So, it’s usually, I have this signature five step thing, that’s blood sugar, adrenal, HPA axis and thyroid hormones, reproductive hormones, and then looking at the gut and looking at detox. So, those things, like for example, things you can do on your own that are going to impact those systems.

Brie Wieselman:

Let’s talk about HPA axis adrenals. We don’t have to dive into the role of that. We all know that dysregulation of cortisol would be another hormone that could be involved here, I mentioned. But basically, yeah, there’s fancy protocols you can use to help change what’s going on with the adrenals. But the number one thing I do with people is asking them, “How are your relationships? How is your relationship with your work, with your world?” It may involve, like for me, involved letting go of some toxic people and habits and behaviors in my life, getting some support from someone else. Like there’s therapy or stress management practices, we have this awesome new platform I heard about called Anara.

Brie Wieselman:

But for me, it looked like a combination of things. It was transcendental meditation, a little hypnotherapy, some neuroplasticity exercises, ala Gupta Program, some psychedelic journeying. And then, really looking at things, like I ask people, “Right, how’s your work environment? Are you on purpose? Do you feel like you have healthy relationships there? How’s your home life or marriage? Do you feel supported? Are you in alignment on things?”

Brie Wieselman:

And then, for example, this is huge, I can’t really underestimate this. I recently had a new patient whose parent was her really only close connection in the world. And she had this phobia of this person passing, which was very real. Right? And it stemmed from some things she’d experienced in even infancy, before she was verbal. Right? And so, we had gotten through this in-depth intake, she’d seen many practitioners, had complex health issues, and I was just trying to jump on board her journey.

Brie Wieselman:

And I finally stepped back and I asked her, I said, “You know what? What other connections do you have in your life?” And she had no one, no one. And so, the main prescription was literally, “Let me help you find community and not just a support group around pathology, but let me help you find ways to connect with some other people, ideally doing something you love.” And she loves nature and being outdoors. So, that’s our first step. Right?

Brie Wieselman:

So, stuff like that are … Yeah, the labs, the protocols, all of that is like, I wouldn’t have a job if I didn’t do that with people, but all this other, that work is what allows those protocols to ultimately have impact and help you change things.

Michael Roesslein:

That’s really cool. I’m excited every time I hear health practitioners talk about stuff like that now, because that’s my jam, is those side of things. And before you even said that that’s what you had told her, I heard what you were saying and I even pieced it together, like I bet that individual had no other connection than that person. And then of course, you’re going to be scared of that. Of course that’s going to be terrifying to you, especially if it’s been that way since you were young. And you said it was a parent, so that was their one connection forever.

Michael Roesslein:

And then, you can piece together that that was probably an individual that didn’t have a lot of friends growing up and never really had social connections. And then, the connection piece and community aspect of health is grossly under represented in discussion when it comes to things in our … Even in functional medicine.

Michael Roesslein:

I just moved to Italy a month ago and Italians right now, I don’t know the exact numbers, but the life expectancy is about eight or nine years different between Italians and Americans right now, I think. Or it’s up there. It’s quite a few. And one thing I noticed when I got here is, way more Italian smoke than Americans, especially California, where I’ve been, nobody in the Bay smokes anymore, unless you’re looking at the outside of a bar or something like that. And no, I’m not piling on anybody who does. I smoked for a pretty decent portion of my life. I used to be a bartender. I don’t want to dig anybody’s lifestyle choices. It’s obviously not something for creating health, but it doesn’t make you morally a bad person. So, I just want to throw that out there.

Michael Roesslein:

But a lot more people smoke here. And one might see that and then be like, “Oh wow, these people smoke. This is probably a really unhealthy society.” Yet, Italians live longer, have lower rates of chronic disease and have less cancer than Americans do. And what I’ve also witnessed in the month that I’ve been here, is that everybody in this town knows everybody else. They all talk to each other. When I’m in the coffee shop, before I go to language school in the morning, I can sit in there for 10 minutes and 20 different people will come in. They get their coffee, it’s handed to them really quick. And their coffee is espresso, which is a little shot. And then they say hello to the barista and they say hello to whoever’s in there. There’s banter, gossip of what’s going on in the town, in the neighborhood, back and forth. It’s like the connection spot.

Michael Roesslein:

And this isn’t the only one of these in the town. The coffee shop is the morning one. But that’s a thing here that is valued above almost anything else. Because before we went on air, I was talking to you about how there was a sign on a door here that said, “Workers tired, restaurant closed.” And I immediately jumped to being an American and was like, “What? This is absurd.” If that happened in the US, they’d get angry Yelp reviews and people being like, “I needed my burrito at two in the afternoon.” But they don’t give a shit about that. My teacher was like, “Of course, they’re tired. Why would you work when you’re tired? They’re going to stay home with their family.”

Michael Roesslein:

And family is huge. Neighborhood connection is huge. Social life is huge. These kind of things, these connections. And in other places where long lifespans, Greece and different place like that, the fabric of their existence is the connection with other people. And that can’t be overlooked. Yes, their food is a little higher quality and more clean. But if Americans smoked at the rate that Italians smoked, that age gap would go from seven or eight on the life expectancy to like 15, because it would be catastrophic for a population of people that doesn’t have the connection.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

So, that was a really long winded way to share my experience and just what I’ve seen in a month is like, it’s such a staple in the life. Like I told you before we went on air that they think it’s catastrophically terrible that I go to school all day now and I work all afternoon and night, five days a week. And I don’t have time to go to the cafe or go to the osteria, which is the restaurant, or the enoteca, which is the wine bar. And they don’t see me at those places, so then they ask, “What are you doing?” I say, “I’m working.” And they’re like, “All the time?” I say, “Yeah.” And it’s sad. It’s sad. They say, “You’re going to get sick.”

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. I mean, we are sick from isolation. So, there’s all these studies of the blue zones. And we try to, in our reductionist, primarily American [crosstalk 00:36:54] narrow it down to antioxidants or what type of food we eat. And everyone’s like, it’s like you’re not seeing the forest for the trees. And it’s like, it’s not just Italian to center the family.

Michael Roesslein:

No, no. It’s like the rest of the world.

Brie Wieselman:

It’s human. Well, it is the rest of the world.

Michael Roesslein:

It’s human before this development of-

Brie Wieselman:

Before this era.

Michael Roesslein:

… this modern society of-

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. If we didn’t live with our people, our tribe, we would die. I mean, we were literally dependent on each other for survival. Right? And so, that is programmed into the fabric of ourselves, our being. And that is the main driver of illness [crosstalk 00:37:31].

Michael Roesslein:

For instance, when an infant is isolated and nobody comes to it, it literally freaks out, freaks out, freaks out, freaks out. That doesn’t change.

Brie Wieselman:

No.

Michael Roesslein:

You’re just a giant baby. So, it doesn’t change. That need is still there and there’s still a part of you, in your physiology, that freaks out when it’s not present. It’s still a survival thing. Isolation means gone, dead, extinct. Can’t be here. Won’t survive.

Brie Wieselman:

Absolutely.

Michael Roesslein:

And that’s been programmed, over-programmed in our Western, modern society, it’s been overridden. I have to work all the time. I have to do this thing all the time. Now people are having to move back in with family, because things are going to shit. People are like, “Oh, this is so catastrophic, family units are getting back together to live together.” I got news for you, everywhere else in the world, they already do that.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Not everywhere, but everywhere that isn’t part of the modern, advanced culture. And it’s actually good for you.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

But it’s like death sentence us. Oh my God, families are going to be moving together.

Brie Wieselman:

They’re going to drive you nuts.

Michael Roesslein:

Oh, yeah.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah, they will, but it’s good for you. Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

I love that you brought that up and I love that you focus on that. And the lab tests are cool. The hormones are cool. The supplements are cool. These things are cool.

Brie Wieselman:

And I can rattle off some nutrients people can take too, and there’s all of that. I mean, I’ll give you the list so you can post it. But I mean, when we really get down to it, that’s what gets people better. And I mean, I say that after working with people clinically for 22 years, which is a flash in the pan compared to some of the practitioners out there, but I guarantee you, if you talk to anyone who’s worked with humans, trying to help them feel better in some way, long enough, if you’re not seeing that, you’re just not looking at it. You’re not listening.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Let’s do a whole nother podcast on that. So, I apologize for hijacking the last few minutes of your podcast a little bit, but it’s just been such a dramatic thing to see. It’s in front of me everywhere I go, all the time, and it’s just been a culture shock in a really positive way. Like a, “Wow, this is better. They rest when they’re tired, they hang out with each other, they talk to each other, they connect, there’s community here. What is this strange thing I just landed in? Do you guys want to be friends with me?” So, that’s why I’m so frantically trying to learn Italian so I can do that.

Michael Roesslein:

So, thank you. Thank you for sharing all this and your experience. And so much of what you do and where you come from with your work is based on your own personal experience, and I think that, that makes a lot of difference with practitioners when they’ve been through the thing that the person they’re working with has been through, because it’s hard to be on that side of it. And to have somebody that gets it and sees it and understands it, and doesn’t talk to you like you’re a statistic, or a number, or a program, or a protocol, is always refreshing.

Michael Roesslein:

So, we’ll put the links down below. I’m going to follow up with you to get the handout that you mentioned. I don’t know if that’s the same, but I made some notes, handouts from Brie, nutrient lists (?). So, I will reach out and get those and then we’ll have links down below, briewieselman.com is your website, right?

Brie Wieselman:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

And we’ll put the link down below with a picture, so it’ll be easy to find and click. So, that’ll all be below in the show notes. What should they just go there and browse around? Or is there a specific thing they should look for, or do, or what’s…

Brie Wieselman:

They can go to the website and browse around. There’s a contact us, if you have questions or want to set up a free consult. I hang out on my Instagram account a lot, if you want to chat with me over there on that profile. I post hopefully helpful [crosstalk 00:41:21].

Michael Roesslein:

Good content too, it’s a good Instagram for people who do health Instagrams.

Brie Wieselman:

Yeah. Oh, thank you. And yeah, I’d love to hear from people. I really enjoy connecting. And thank you so much for having me. This was a blast.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Super fun. Thank you so much. And we’ll connect soon and we’ll do the next podcast from the field with the sheep.

Brie Wieselman:

Awesome. I’m putting it in my books.

Michael Roesslein:

All right. Cool. Thanks, Brie. Talk to you soon.

Brie Wieselman:

Talk to you soon.