The Natural Evolution Podcast

Season 2

Episode 28

S2E28 – Brain on Fire: Getting to the Root of the Mental Health Crisis with Brendan Vermeire

Brendan Vermeire, founder of the Metabolic Solutions Institute, is dedicated to changing the way the world views mental health. Focused on bridging the gap between licensed health professionals and life coaches, Brendan has created an effective rubric for healthy evolution. By creating a space that accepts both data driven and differing perspectives, a malleable framework emerges to address the individual challenges we each face resulting in a clearer path forward to growth and healing. 

Listen in to hear Brendan talk about mental health and an array of related subjects – including why mental health is at an all time low and possible root causes of mental health dysfunction.

To learn more about the Metabolic Solutions Institute, visit his website.

And follow him on Instagram for daily education and inspiration.

  • Ready to learn how to be in charge of your mental health and better understanding the systems behind the symptoms? Click here to learn more about the industry’s newest functional lab testing.

Functional Health Professionals interested in becoming a master of root causes related to mental health dysfunction can enroll in Brendan’s summer certification course here.

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 #28

In this episode, Brendan Vermeire talks about mental health and an array of related subjects – including why mental health is at an all time low and possible root causes. He mindfully discusses the challenge of perspective and how one might address their personal struggles.
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About our Guest

Brendan Vermeire, FMHP is a Mental and Metabolic Health Scientist & Researcher, Functional Medicine Educator, Writer, and Speaker. He is a Board-Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, Master Nutrition Coach, Master Personal Trainer, USAW Sports Performance Coach, and Crossfit Trainer.

He is the proud owner and founder of the Metabolic Solutions Institute for Functional Health and Fitness Practitioners and the creator of the Functional Mental Health Practitioner Certification Course. He is also the founder of the Metabolic Solutions Research & Education Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to ‘changing the way the world views mental health’ through advancing the science of Mental Health Dysfunction. He is also the creator of The Mental M.A.P.™, a cutting-edge Lab Panel for Mental Health. When he’s not educating doctors/practitioners/professionals, helping clients overcome their most severe health struggles, or producing cutting edge scientific education, Brendan enjoys all things fitness and is probably working out. He also enjoys anything in nature and any activities that expand his heart, mind, and soul.

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SE02E28: Brain on Fire: Getting to the Root of the Mental Health Crisis with Brendan Vermeire

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Podcast Transcript

Michael Roesslein: We are live recording now after a half hour of already chatting. I really got to start recording those pre-recording conversations, because they would make for a good side podcast. I am here with Brendan. Man, how are you doing?

Brendan Vermeire:

Good, man. Thanks for having me, Michael. I enjoyed our pre-conversation too, and I’m excited to keep the convo going here.

Michael Roesslein:

It’s going to be fun. We’ve been orbiting in each other’s circles, and crossing paths for quite a while through FDN, through what we’ve been through personally, which I’m going to ask you to share in a minute. I think that there’s a lot of similarities there. I think it’s going to be a really interesting conversation to have. I probably should have done this a long time ago, but everything happens when it needs to, so I’ll stick with that. But for those who don’t know, Brendan Vermeire is a mental and metabolic health scientist and researcher of functional medicine, educator, and writer.

He’s a board-certified holistic health practitioner, master nutrition coach, master personal trainer, USAW sports performance coach, and CrossFit trainer. There’s a few things there that don’t necessarily play well with each other when I ask questions about that. He’s the proud owner and founder of the Metabolic Solutions Institute for Functional Health and Fitness Practitioners, and the creator of the Functional Mental Health Practitioner Certification course, which we’re going to probably chat about today. He’s also the founder of the Metabolic Solutions Research and Education Foundation, a not-for-profit dedicated to changing the way the world views mental health through advancing the science of mental health dysfunction.

He’s the creator of the Mental Map, a cutting edge lab panel for mental health, which I’d also like to learn about. When he is not educating doctors and practitioners and professionals or helping clients, Brendan enjoys all things fitness and is probably working out. He enjoys anything in nature and any activities that expand his heart, mind, and soul. There’s more overlap than I thought. Man, I started… I have a master’s in exercise physiology, and started as a personal trainer myself, and recognize a few of those things in there.

I had a CSCs. I didn’t do the USAW, but that’s quite a journey. I’m curious what order some of that happened in, and when did that kick off? Did you… Out of school, you were just really interested in fitness and training, and then you found nutrition and functional medicine, or how did that go for you?

Brendan Vermeire:

I mean, this is super fun already to talk to you, because I’ve followed you for years, and you’re a number of years ahead of me in a very similar space, similar circles, so this will be fun to explore. I actually… When I was in high school, it was my dream at the time to be a Navy SEAL. I think I was a very high functioning, depressed young man, whatever was going on with me, but I was very intense. I was very focused, and I needed something to channel that. I actually grew up doing martial arts, and was really, really…

Martial arts was my first passion, and so I think I have a samurai poster literally right here.

Michael Roesslein:

Which martial arts?

Brendan Vermeire:

Karate was the first and then MMA, Krav Maga, jujitsu, wrestling, all the things. A lot of those life lessons stuck, and so as a young man, I think I had a very literal translation into adulthood and career of like, “Cool, I need to go be a Navy SEAL, because I want to be the best of the best and all of that.” So after high school, I actually… I qualified for the seal program, and signed a six-year Navy SEAL contract. Then I was about halfway through bootcamp, and they found I had a inguinal hernia, so they had to pull me out of training, medically discharged me.

That felt like my life goal ripped away, so that was pretty soul crushing at the time. It was during that time that I was working at a gym scrubbing toilets, holding towels. I was obviously very big on fitness just from all the training I did to get ready for the Navy and my athletic history. That’s when I went to my fallback plan, which was get certified as a trainer, get certified as a nutrition coach, get started with that, because academia and the college kid lifestyle just did not resonate with me at all.

I got certified and got started, and then really just fell in love with health sciences and helping people. It just has gradually evolved over the years, and now doing what we’re doing now.

Michael Roesslein:

I think when you came into the FDN scene, you came from fitness, right? You were still doing that, or I don’t… You were… Do you still do competitions?

Brendan Vermeire:

No. No. I did body building for six years, and did all of that. I’ve done all the fitness stuff, CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting and body building. I came into the more functional medicine space from fitness and nutrition, which when I… Obviously, FDN has its own unique approach, so I came into the functional medicine space thinking that we all approached it the same of fitness, nutrition, lifestyle, sleep, stress, supplements, and then medications.

So then when I saw these doctors that call themselves functional, and it’s like all they’re doing is prescribing drugs and throwing supplements without any of the nutrition or the fitness or the lifestyle, I was like, “I think we’re doing something wrong here, guys.” It’s been interesting.

Michael Roesslein:

So is it out of your own interest that you got more into a functional medicine type approach and labs and that kind of thing, or was it the people you were working with presented more complex situations, or you were just trying to take your level of depth a little further, or how did that come about?

Brendan Vermeire:

A little bit of both. I started my career with Life Time Fitness who already has a very science-based approach. They have a lab testing program. They do metabolic testing, so I was very… I just love science, and so I was really into all the deeper science of like, “Cool, you’re trying to lose weight, so how do we measure progress? Are you just going to step on the scale every day and get frustrated or…” No, let’s use blood work. Let’s use VO2 testing. Let’s use body composition testing, so just a more science-based and educated approach to optimal health and fitness.

But the more that you pull that thread, my thing, I was always known as the trainer dude that the other trainers sent their clients to when they weren’t getting results, right? You’re already exercising. You’re already eating well, but something’s wrong. You’re symptomatic. When you’re working in that metabolic health dysfunction, if you keep pulling that thread, before you know it, you’re spiraling down further into dysfunction and disease. That’s how it was for me.

I was always just really passionate about the lab testing and supplement protocols just to enhance the process. That’s more so, and then it was going through my own health struggles and my ex-fiancee who had a mysterious illness. That’s really when I dove head first into the functional medicine space.

Michael Roesslein:

It usually comes out of personal experience. I’ve asked that question to a lot of practitioners and doctors. I’d say about 90% of them, it’s because they had to figure out something for themselves or somebody close to them, and then they went down the rabbit hole, and you can’t get out of it.

Brendan Vermeire:

That’s exactly it.

Michael Roesslein:

You can’t go backwards. I’m one of the 10%. I didn’t have anything of my own that I was trying to figure out. My clients were in the gym, and then I started to learn nutrition because the fitness by itself isn’t enough. Then I started to learn nutrition, and then they were symptomatic, and then they had issues. I started reading things, and then the other trainers would be like, “Hey, what do you do with the person with IBS?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I’ll get back to you in a week.”

Then I would go listen to things, and I’d come back. I was like, “Oh shit, they train people in this. I can learn how to do this.” It was just deepening depth of clients kind of. I asked the martial arts. I box. It’s the only one you didn’t mention, but that’s included in MMA. The wrestlers and the grapplers and the jujitsu always tried to pull me over to that side of the gym, and I always stayed over with my shoes on. But the martial arts and the gym is a good place to be. We’re going to talk about mental health today, and we didn’t…

That hasn’t been touched on in anything that we just mentioned, and you have just a really inspiring story in what you’ve been through and how you came to be interested in mental health, and taking such a strong focus with the organization you’ve created, the certification you’re going to create. Everything you just told me, aside from the Navy SEAL situation falling through, which I’m selfishly glad that it did, because you’re doing a lot of really cool stuff, but aside from that, there wasn’t anything you just mentioned that would indicate that there was anything wrong, that there was…

You sounded like gangbusters, crushing life, doing all these things. It’s so awesome. It’s so perfect. I’ve worked at Life Time for a little bit. I know what the environment was there. I mean, that’s a good spot for a trainer, especially a dialed-in trainer that’s actually successful in what they’re doing. Life Time’s a pretty good place to be a trainer. The trainings that you went through, that’s high level stuff. You had this really cool career doing sciencey health, nutrition, fitnessy things. It sounds like the perfect life, right?

Brendan Vermeire:

You would think, right? I mean, I agree about Life Time. Sometimes I wish I could do it all again and be more content wearing the black uniform, and fitting into the corporate box that they try to shove you into, because-

Michael Roesslein:

I made it a little while.

Brendan Vermeire:

[crosstalk 00:10:40].

Michael Roesslein:

But as far as global gyms go though, I have experienced other ones too. I know how other ones run. I’m not trying to throw Life Time under the bus. Life Time as far as like the global gyms go, to me, it’s definitely the best one.

Brendan Vermeire:

Oh, absolutely.

Michael Roesslein:

I mean, the giant international gym conglomerates, but I remember putting on that black shirt. I thought I was the shit. I was like, “Man, this is so cool.” What happened? I mean, I don’t want to… It’s your story, so I’ll let you get into where mental health became your focus and how and why. But I think it goes to show that what’s going on for somebody is not always very clear or visible on the outside, I guess, is the point I was trying to make. That I know when I became out publicly with my own mental health challenges and depression and anxiety, and people are like, “But your life is so awesome, or you seem so put together.”

“You’re the one who helps me or whatever. I’m just… I’d like to just open up the floor for you to share what happened and what you went through, because I think it’s super powerful. Then we can talk a little bit about how those worlds have combined too.” Create some cool stuff.

Brendan Vermeire:

No, absolutely. I appreciate it. It’s been a crazy journey, because I was… I had a great thing going for me at Life Time. I still love that company. I’m really glad I started with them. But tracing back a little bit, in high school, first off, anybody that wants to be a Navy SEAL, especially as a teenager, you have to look at that and go, “Why? What’s going on with you? Why do you want to put yourself through hell week and the hardest military training ever, and especially as a teenager?”

I look at that hindsight 20-20, and I’m like, “That looks like self destructive, something going on right there.” It’s one thing for a grown ass man that’s 30 years old that wants to serve his country, but a teenager that hasn’t tasted life yet-

Michael Roesslein:

What’s the motivation there? What’s the real why?

Brendan Vermeire:

Exactly, which I don’t think I even really knew at that point. I was just chasing the most intense goal that I could. I obviously had something I needed to prove to myself or somebody, right? When I was 17 years old, I think it was my senior, junior year in high school, I was just doing a physical for sports with my primary care. I’d mentioned… I always get seasonal effective. I hate winter with burning passion, so I mentioned something about seasonal effective.

Michael Roesslein:

Same.

Brendan Vermeire:

Without no blood work, no referral to a psychologist or anything, just, “I hear a 17-year-old kid. Here’s a script for Zoloft.” Zoloft didn’t work for me very well. It made me worse, apathetic, anhedonia, just a apathetic zombie. That was when I was 17. I was a wallflower in high school. I didn’t talk for four years. I was a small kid, and just kept to myself, made the grade, did sports, loved sports and wrestling and martial arts all the way through. Then I’m working at Life Time scrubbing toilets, and I’m working with all these 30-year-old hormonal hotshot trainer people and whatever.

But my mental health just continued to stutter and decline. I think I was 20 where then I was back in front of my primary care, and the same idea. I was just doing a checkup. This time, like here, try Wellbutrin this time, because the SSRI didn’t sit so well. This was four years later. This time, because of the history, then I got referred to a clinical psychology clinic, and I underwent a battery of tests, all subjective, questionnaires, and hit the space bar when this number pops on the screen.

Then I was officially diagnosed with major depressive disorder and ADHD, and then put on Vyvanse and Adderall on top of the Wellbutrin. At that point in my life, I’ll just candidly admit, I got myself caught up in a really, really bad situation. I got really, really burnt and hurt, so I swallowed my entire bottle of Wellbutrin, and then woke up in the intensive care unit, I think, three days later breathing out of a tube. It was of course deemed a suicide attempt, so I was in the ICU for five nights to get me medically stable, then transferred to an inpatient psych ward where you’re literally locked up.

You can’t step outside. Your rights are revoked. You have nothing but processed cafeteria food. They don’t even tell you when they change your prescription dosages. It’s just line up like cattle, take the pills, talk to the psychiatrist that literally has no concept of holistic health or movement as medicine, or none of that exists. It’s just, “Here’s the medical cocktail to make you sedated or less crazy.” That was my experience. So when I got out of all of that, and then I’m…

I was in school full time, because I knew I wanted to do more naturopathic functional stuff, and I didn’t know how to get there, so I’m working full time as personal trainer, nutrition coach in a corporate model, that’s all commission, going to school full time-

Michael Roesslein:

That’s a lot of hustle.

Brendan Vermeire:

Yeah, and then jumping through the BS hoops of Gen Eds and academia, then ran into really toxic situation that I walked into and got burnt. I mean, it was a shit show, and honestly, it went downhill from there. I quit the gym, and went to a different gym, started over. I dropped out of school and started doing different certification programs that were more related to holistic functional stuff. Then I was in a relationship that was very toxic, and we were living in a moldy house.

She got mysteriously ill, so I was trying to save her and figure out what her root cause was, and went down all those rabbit holes. It’s been weird how the journey’s just evolved over time. Now, I do all that I do with mental health and neuroinflammation, but there’s just so many missing gaps in between conventional and fitness and functional, and like we were talking about behind the scenes of the psychological, psycho-emotional, spiritual component of mental health, but then the very real physiological root cause side of it.

There’s so much space in between, and people have no idea how to combine those two worlds.

Michael Roesslein:

How long ago was that when you were in the hospital?

Brendan Vermeire:

That was in 2014, so about eight years ago.

Michael Roesslein:

That’s the post I saw recently that I think that actually is what… I think that’s what nudged me to reach out to you to come on the podcast. Actually, I think I saw that neat, shared it really candidly. I’ve been there, and I get it. I’ve not been in the psych. I didn’t go to the hospital, because I was so hesitant to… Being in that environment, I thought it would make me worse. I thought being locked up and being fed drugs in a place I couldn’t leave with people I don’t know would’ve left me worse off. I was close though a couple times.

It’s a deep place to pull yourself out from. You mentioned the root cause physiological stuff, which is the biochemistry and the neurotransmitters, and the vitamins, and minerals, and hormones, and all of that. Then there’s the psycho-spiritual emotional side of things. That was eight years ago. I’m curious… Before we get into what you’re doing now to help practitioners be able to better address these things, I’m curious, what, if you’re open to sharing, has been the biggest needle movers for you in regards to getting yourself from a place where taking a bottle of Wellbutrin seems like the play to doing everything that you’re doing now, seemingly in a much better place?

I never project that on people anymore, so I hope you’re in a much better place. It appears so, and I can sense that in the discussion that you have a lot of awareness and perspective on where things were. Usually, that’s not there until somebody’s in a bit of a better place. But what has been your eight years from that day till now the biggest needle movers for you?

Brendan Vermeire:

Absolutely. It’s a big question, an important one, because I get hit up on the internet every day where people hear my story, and it’s like, “So what was your root cause?” This singular point and shoot. Was it just gluten? Was it just mold?

Michael Roesslein:

Same. What supplement did you take?

Brendan Vermeire:

I’m like, “Well, no, it’s a little more complicated than that.” This is where as I’m building out this FMHP thing, I’m literally trying… Well, not trying, I am. I’m putting this into a curriculum to teach of like, “How did I do it, right?” What’s beautiful is my work is my medicine. It’s through this work that I’m doing, that is my medicine. It’s my daily dose to show up and try to figure out, “How do I take all the lessons that I’ve learned over these years, all the self-experimentation and the revelations and the self-discovery, and how do I teach this to other professionals in a way that they can implement with clients and patients?”

I created… The other day, I was drawing this functional intervention hierarchy that I’m calling it. It’s this pyramid of like, “All right, you got more your medications, your emergency medicine at the top versus more environment at the bottom, right, of an organism?” I think we over humanized the human experience. I’ll say that right now. We’re so caught up in our own very limited human perspective that we overlook obvious things. But if an organism is struggling, you should probably look at the environment it’s in first, whether it’s the literal physical environment or the metaphysical, emotional, esoteric environment.

I wish I could say that there was just one root cause. There are a lot of things, right? I didn’t know that I’m on the celiac spectrum until I was in my mid 20s, so I was eating gluten up until the age of 22, 23, something like that. It turns out actually, I am on that celiac spectrum, or sure, I have the MTHFR SNPs. Sure, I have to take 500 milligrams, 5-HTP every single day just to keep my mood stable. There are the very tangible, biochemical, physiological things that I’ve had to learn how to monitor through lab testing, and manage with my lifestyle and supplement regimen and all the things, but then it’s so much more than that.

I remember for me when I was really struggling, obviously, there’s a lot of stigma around mental health already, but I always felt like, “I’m a headstrong kid. I don’t feel like I have a bad outlook on life. I don’t feel like there’s anything inherently wrong with me psychologically.” It felt more of like a symptomatic thing. It felt more like I just don’t have the energy that I want. I don’t feel the way I want to feel, so I always, as a younger person, thought it was a little bit more physiological in origin.

But as I’ve come into my own into adulthood, and gained some wisdom and maturity, I’m able to more objectively see like, “Actually, I think there was a lot of self discovery and a lot of early life conditioning and self limiting beliefs that I’ve had to identify and dismantle.” This is why I’m so passionate about trying to bring these two worlds together where I literally, if I’m working with a client, I’ll sit down, and we unpack like, “All right, here’s the psychological healing opportunities. Here’s the physiological.”

Fortunately, the physiological is easy, right? A little lab testing, supplement protocols, some diet, lifestyle tweaks, that’s the easy part. But like what [crosstalk 00:23:59].

Michael Roesslein:

I used to think it was hard and complex until I switched sides.

Brendan Vermeire:

Totally. That’s where I’m like, “I don’t know. I’ll [crosstalk 00:24:06].”

Michael Roesslein:

It’s like, “Oh man.” Okay. But to even be literate with it as a health practitioner puts the value to the client, there’s so many people that never get told, that never gets shown that, never even get brought up. That’s an excellent way to be doing it. So for you, it was learning your own unique needs both from the physiological side of things and then unpacking some… I mean, if I want to informally jump in inappropriately from the psychology side of things, I see the drive to become a Navy SEAL at 15.

You mentioned two extremely toxic relationships that did a lot of harm to you. As a person quite experienced with very toxic relationships, I know that there’s reasons we find ourselves in those situations, and that will keep repeating itself until the reason that you’re in those situations changes. People ask me all the time too, because I’m pretty public about being suicidal, and having depression, and anxiety, and really severe ADD, which I’m learning to weaponize as a gift in some ways, but it’s still a hassle a lot.

People will say like, “What did you do to get better?” They do. They want like a, “Do these six things, and you’re going to be better.” Unfortunately, it’s not that. It’s a combination of, and it’s making different choices and making them every day. I did a lot of work on the other side, and then I’ve now noticed too if I stay up a couple hours too late, I don’t feel good. That’s my biggest needle movement. For some people, it’s food. For some people, it’s exercise. If they don’t train five times a week, they don’t feel good. If they eat something they shouldn’t eat, they don’t feel good.

I’ve learned that mine is sleep and circadian rhythm. I was in the service industry for 10 years. I didn’t go to sleep before midnight once for 10 years. That’s when my depression was the most severe. Now, if I’m up later than I should be, I’m depressed the next day, no matter what supplements I take or what food I do. It’s different for each person. You mentioned the environment. A toxic relationship is an environment just as much as a moldy house is. I used to run into that with clients, and I didn’t know how to say it, and you just got to say it.

I just saw a meme the other day, and it’s this. It just says, “If there’s a flower that’s not growing, you look at the soil. You don’t look at the flower.” The flower’s not inherently broken. There’s no broken nature. The trees and the plants and the flowers, if it doesn’t grow, if it’s not growing, you immediately look at like, “How’s it being taken care of? What’s the temperature? What’s the humidity? What’s the soil?” Without question, nobody ever says like, “Oh I got a dud plant.”

Brendan Vermeire:

What’s wrong with the flower?

Michael Roesslein:

This flower’s a dud. That doesn’t exist, and it doesn’t exist for people either. I think that that was a great point that you brought up is that the environment plays such an immense role. I had a client once. I’ll change her name. Diana, who’s lost one of her children in an automobile accident. It was probably about five years before I was working with her. After that happened, she put on a bunch of weight. Her health started deteriorating. She started having a lot of chronic pain. She was having insomnia and all these things.

We did the whole intakes. We did everything with FDN. We did the labs. We did all the stuff. We did everything, and what I kept hearing… This is well before I was trained in any of this stuff. I would’ve done more for her now, but then I kept hearing guilt, shame, guilt, guilt, shame, guilt, shame. She blamed herself for his death. I don’t know the situation around the car accident, but I think it was something like she didn’t give him a ride, or somehow she was involved in the incident in some way, I think. There was just this immense guilt and shame.

I recommended a book to her on that. I sent her to someone who works with that. I taught her some very basics of mindfulness and being aware of thoughts and loops and patterns and that like, it’s not her fault. Before she even started taking the supplements or the nutrition or any of the things, her symptoms shifted probably about 30% in a week or two, just from reframing that a little bit. I don’t know, it just felt really relevant to share. I figured you’d be able to back that up. I’m curious, you mentioned you take 5-HTP.

I’m guessing you figured out you’re not the world’s champion of serotonin creation, but you mentioned lab specific. You’ve created an entire training program, basically reversed engineered your own healing to create a program that will teach practitioners how to assess and work with individuals. Can you talk a little bit about that and the labs, and what type of stuff is covered there? I saw when you went over to this side, you alluded to… I’ll let you deal with that.

The functional medicine side of the mental health, what does that entail? We keep talking about it as if everybody knows what we’re talking about. What is the functional medicine side of mental health to you, and what does that training look like that you’re putting together?

Brendan Vermeire:

For years now, I’ve had a number of practitioners, because training providers has been y day the last six years. I’ve had a lot of people asking like, “Hey, when are you going to create your own program?” I didn’t want to create something that already exists. There’s a lot of good entry-level integrative functional programs. But just over the years, I have organically found myself in this niche of functional medicine for mental health thing. Even this past year, I spoke at IMMH or Integrated Medicine for Mental Health, which is a well-respected conference in the industry.

It’s basically all psychiatrists. I’m speaking on stage alongside doctors and PhDs who have been in practice longer than I’ve been alive. I thought that was my environment. I thought those were my people, but honestly, it felt very conventional psychiatric. It felt very allopathic, very dry, very reductionistic. There really was no holistic functional energy in that room, which was that just further shoved me of like, “Dude, somebody’s got to create a more comprehensive training that ties all this together.” Because sure, you might have fitness professionals that understand at a very simplistic level that like, “Hey, people feel better when they’re in shape, and they’re working out, right?”

“Oh, well, nutrition plays into your mood,” or, “Oh sunlight.” There’s all these bits and pieces, but I haven’t seen anything that puts it all into one curriculum. My whole curriculum, although it is extremely lab testing, evidence, research-based, I love the technical science. I’ve mapped a lot of that out very in depth. But what I love about it is the more you go down the scientific rabbit holes, it point us back to stuff that should be common sense, right? I think a lot of people, they’re so caught up in their own survival mode.

There isn’t any mindfulness to understand all these input signals that are affecting their body, so they don’t recognize that environmental or the esoteric, but that’s where, like we were saying, people want to go into one of the two camps of either this self-healing, psycho-emotional do all the journaling, the polyvagal, neuro limbic, all that, or just chasing these flashes root causes. It’s like, “Well, we have to do both.” I am setting up this curriculum where it’s like, we’re doing a more holistic intake to be able to create like, “Okay, what are the physiological healing opportunities, and what testing can we use to dig into that, whether it’s the mental map or DUTCH or stool testing, all the testing?”

Because my whole thing, something I’m really passionate about, I think all these cool modalities, they can help. Whether it’s that bottle of supplement, whether it’s that exercise regimen, or that fancy diet, or that neuro limbic thing, it can all be helpful. But I think we have to be scientists in our own healing. I think we have to be objective, because I think healing is a very… It’s the hardest journey that you can go on, right, trying to heal at a psychological, emotional, and physiological level all at the same time. All those confounding factors are a hurricane within your own body, within your own soul, and we lose objectivity through that.

We’re so caught up in our human experience. We can’t make sense of it. So huge… For example, with trauma, which we talked about behind the scenes, trauma has become this trendy subject in the functional medicine space. Well, maybe trauma’s your singular root cause. That’s the root cause of everything. It happened in your childhood. It’s like, “Yeah, I’ve mapped out that science, where now, we actually have hard science that shows early life stress, adverse childhood events.” Early life trauma increases inflammaging and immunosenescence. It alters epigenetics. So yes, it can set you up for this HPA neuro limbic, inflammatory, long-term thing that can contribute.

But we for too long have separated physiology and psychology, but now, we see it’s like, “Well, thoughts become proteins. You can manifest your own illness. Placebo has been validated.” This is why I’m really big on using very sensitive objective biomarkers to qualify whatever intervention we’re using, whether that’s talking to a therapist, doing Ayahuasca, taking 50 supplements, remediating the mold in your apartment. Is it actually moving the needle on your health objectively? But that has to go subjectively, so anytime I’m working with a client, the three ways I assess progress are their subjective perception of quality life is getting better.

Their symptomology is getting better, still subjective, measured objectively, but then their sensitive biomarker data also has to be getting better if we’re hitting those three things. But I think functional medicine practitioners and psychiatrists, it’s still just what pill, what’s the mechanism of action just to get their crazy brain chemicals in check. I do, I think this more holistic functional curriculum that’s taking all of this into account, but still backing it up with objective data, but bringing more of that motivational interviewing and the psychology of effective behavior modification, because it’s a lifestyle change.

It’s a mindset change. The pills and protocols only get you so far, but we have to bring it all together. That’s really what I’m aiming to do.

Michael Roesslein:

Well, that’s it. It’s just that that’s pretty awesome. How long is this… What does this look like for practitioners? We do have practitioners that listen to our show too. So if they’re curious about it, what’s the… Starting in the fall, this is March when we’re recording this. I’m not sure when this is going to air probably in the summer, but starting in fall 2022. Is it a certain amount of months, weeks, or is it just work at your own pace, or is there live? What’s the… How’s it going to work?

Brendan Vermeire:

I’m trying to structure a little bit different. I don’t want it to be like the evergreen experience. I want it to be a little bit more interactive so-

Michael Roesslein:

Like [inaudible 00:36:54].

Brendan Vermeire:

It’s going to be approximately 150 plus hours of prerecorded modules, and we’re going to be dripping out the modules one month at a time. Keep everybody on the same schedule. The plan is you have one year, one year to get through the curriculum, one year to get through the schedule. Obviously, if somebody’s struggling, they can do an extension. But basically, one year, keep up with the trainings, practical exams, live case studies, live Q&A, so there is that evergreen module. Work at your own pace through the modules, but then have the live training experiences as well to support that curriculum.

I want it to be advanced in nature. I want it to be prestigious. I think there’s too many like the weekend certification courses as a lot of people might say in a derogatory manner. It’s like… I don’t want it to be that. I want this to… I don’t want it to be… I want it to be agnostic as far as psychiatrists in the program, health coaches side by side, because there’s too much of a divide between licensed, unlicensed. I see that bickering about that.

We need to get over that, because it’s like as a functional industry, I don’t think we’re effectively encroaching upon the entire population if we’re squabbling amongst ourselves of, “Well, you stay in your lane. You stay in your lane.” It’s like, “No. No. We all need to be on the same page here.”

Michael Roesslein:

The market is not saturated. It’s not like everybody walking around has their therapist, and their functional nutrition coach, and their doctor, and their acupuncturist, and their… It’s not. 90% of the people out there have none of those things, and those are the people that we need to work together to reach. I like that. I see a lot of that squabbling too in the things that I do. What’s been interesting about the licensed non-licensed thing, it’s a little behind the scenes in the industry for people who are not in any of these industries, is now that telehealth is a thing with COVID and therapy, teletherapy, telemedicine, tele, everything, everybody working via distance.

The licensed practitioners are actually far more handcuffed as far as what they can do, because they go state by state with their credentialing. So if you’re a licensed therapist, for example, and you live in Oregon, you can only work with patients or clients, I guess, every clients in Oregon even via the internet, technically with your license. Now, a lot of them are switching to do coaching, and not even using their license, and then I’m seeing that a lot with RDs and even some doctors. I interviewed a functional rheumatologist, which is a thing.

I was so excited to learn that that was a thing. I met one, an integrative rheumatologist. He’s working. He’s got licensed in 17 states, which is incredible, but he’s… If somebody’s outside of the state or outside of the country, he coaches them, and just doesn’t do prescriptions, and doesn’t do whatever. So it’s interesting now because that environment has shifted so much in the last five years, where everything’s done virtually now, and watching the licensed people scramble to be able to meet the need, whereas the unlicensed people who are more of the certifications and those types of trainings are way more flexible and agile in those spaces.

That’s really interesting. I think it’d be great for people on… I’d love to learn more. I want to see this, because I’m really interested in it. I think that I have… I know a lot of people on the psycho-spiritual emotional side who are trying to learn some of this stuff, because they know that it helps, but they don’t know where to go to learn it. Mental health is pretty much the hottest topic in functional medicine right now, too. I think you’re creating something that’s a very direct need. I’d love to help out anyway that I can too with any of the connections I have or if…

I don’t know. Anyway, whatsoever, I’d love to be a help. I’m really excited about it. I wish that it existed a while ago so that somebody could have helped me out. I guess I want to leave with just… You talked about your own needle movers a little bit. You take 500 milligrams of 5-HTP every day. I have to take the slow release one at nighttime. That’s what I’ve noticed for me, because then I wake up not feeling doom. But if somebody wants to take away from this, you have a lot of experience with nutrition and lifestyle and functional medicine principles and practices, labs, whatever, all of that related to mental health, but it doesn’t have to get super complicated.

So a few simple needle movers for people from the functional medicine side of things, people who might suffer from even seasonal depression or major depression or anxiety, or any of these types of… I mean, if you look at the statistics now, which I’m doing putting together some investment pitch things for INARA. We’re looking at statistics on mental health diagnoses and the amount of people who are suffering from this thing, or this thing, or this thing, or this thing. If you add up all this things, it’s like half the population, and those are just the ones who have told somebody.

What are your handful of little, it could be three, four simple, easy, strong needle movers that you’ve seen be effective for most people?

Brendan Vermeire:

Absolutely. Well, first off, I really appreciate everything that you said. Like I said, my work is my medicine, and this is the culmination of a lot of years of work and service, and healing, and digging into the science. It’s crazy to be here. I look forward to maybe being on the other side of the lounge, because I’ll be buried in work for a while, but it is very medicinal to do this service to the world. It’s never been needed more, and so I think it’s the time. I got to do it. It’s one of those things deep in my own soul, I feel like I have to do this. Then maybe after that, then I can die in peace, and that was my contribution to the world, but I think that’s part of it.

So as far as some of the big takeaways, because we really… I get why, and I think it’s a survival mode, desperate cling to anything tangible. I think a lot of people need to take more ownership, and start facing themselves even when it’s really, really hard owning their shit to be candid. I think there’s just too much bypassing. We could say spiritual bypassing if we want, but a lot of people want to find something to blame that’s external to themselves for their own circumstances. Like, “Why was the victim… That person traumatized me, or that tick bit me, and so now I have lyme, and it’s not my fault and whatever.”

There’s such an obsession of things outside of our control. It’s like, “Well, how about things in our control?” I’m always like, “it starts with mindfulness. If you’re not even mindful of what the issues really are and how you’re contributing to your own self-induced suffering, which I would argue that the vast majority of human suffering is self-induced, the majority.”

Michael Roesslein:

Almost all of it.

Brendan Vermeire:

I would say at least 85%. That deserves [crosstalk 00:44:48].

Michael Roesslein:

I’m not judging anybody. I was the champion of it, and still am sometimes.

Brendan Vermeire:

Same here. Same here, because you can do all the root cause protocols. You can do all the esoteric. You can do all the psychedelics. You can do whatever, but without a sense of purpose, a sense of core values of like, “Why are… What is your contribution, right?” I think there’s always that environment. There’s the purpose, the outlook. But even just with the basics of lifestyle, it kills me how many people are dropping 10, 20K on all the functional medicine stuff or the fancy spiritual stuff. It’s just they’re not hydrated.

They’re not eating real food. They’re not moving their body daily. They’re not getting outside. They’re not spending time with loved ones. That’s especially where it’s like before going down the root cause, rabbit hole, or tripping down a quantum spiritual rabbit hole, let’s get those fundamental lifestyle behaviors on point. Let’s develop some mindfulness around that, because your health and your physique, that’s a reflection of your day-to-day habits. We have to form those right habits with the lifestyle, the exercise, the nutrition, the hydration.

It doesn’t need to be over complicated, and people continue to make it overly complicated with diet, right, like vegan, plant-based keto, intermittent fasting. It’s like… I’ll maybe shut up on this note. I battle this every day through Instagram, and it drives me crazy where I could put a post up about the value of lab testing, and I get a rebuttal of, “My insurance doesn’t cover it. It’s too expensive. I can’t afford that.” Here’s a valuable supplement. Well, I can’t take pills, and you’re just trying to sell supplements and da, da. You can get that from food. Eat real food, not processed food.

Well, I don’t know what that means. Should I do vegan or intermittent fasting? Exercise. Well, I can’t because I have MCAS and mitochondrial dysfunction. No matter what you put out there, people will find a reason why they’re a victim, and they can’t do it. It’s like, “Okay, well, help me help you. If you are unhelpable…” I think there’s a lot of people that’s like the… A lot of people want to be a victim. Here’s the thing. We live in this weird cancel culture society, where it’s being a victim, you get applauded, and everybody bends over to accommodate you and your perspective of reality despite how warped it might be.

It’s like a child choosing to drown in two feet of water. All the kid has to do is stand up, but they’re throwing a big fit. They’re getting all the attention. They’re getting everybody to accommodate them, which is what they want. Everybody wants to be portrayed as the victim, but nobody wants to be a real victim because being a real victim sucks and can ruin your life. But at the end of the day, until you actually hit that rock bottom like you were in the ICU, you almost like…. I’m talking about myself here, where I almost died. I’m happy to be here. I’m lucky to be here. You have the choice, victim or victor. You can’t be both.

You’re either the victor, or you’re the victim. Which do you want to do, and at what point do you start taking ownership over your position? Despite how unfair life can be and having the discipline, there’s this radical self love, self acceptance movement, but self respect and discipline are part of that. You can’t Practice self love without self respect. I think that’s lost right now. Those are just a few closing pots, because there’s no point in going down the root cause rabbit hole, or tripping down a vortex until the foundation is in place.

Michael Roesslein:

I agree. I had lots… I haven’t worked one on one with clients in a while. But when I was, I would get people that would come in, and they’d want to do these super complex protocols. They knew the list of lab tests they wanted to order. They listen to this podcast with this guy talking about this thing, and they wanted to try this protocol and do this. I’d be like, “What time do you go to bed at?” “Well, I try to get… I’m usually in bed by midnight most nights.” I’m just like, “Okay, let’s start there.” “Well, I’m not going to pay you all this money to tell me to go to bed earlier.”

I’m like, “Okay, cool. Don’t. Go to bed earlier for a while. Then call me if you still don’t feel good, and don’t give me any money.” It’s the complexity game. It’s like the… It’s almost like a badge of honor of like, “How complex can it be to fix me?” The more complex it is, that’s more valuable in some way. The simple things aren’t as sexy or aren’t as exciting or whatever. It’s pretty incredible what happened when I stopped going to bed at 2:00 in the morning, and drinking water, going outside, those things.

Now, when I don’t feel well, I go for a walk outside. I don’t do the things I used to do when I don’t feel well. I just say, “Oh, I don’t feel good. I’m going to just stop doing this, and I’m going to go outside.” Then 20 minutes later, I usually feel better, and I’ve learned that. Then it’s positively reinforcing a new thing that you can do instead of the thing that you did before, but I feel you on that and the glorification of who can receive the most complex diagnosis and protocol, and then not be able to do all the things anyway.

You got to be able to do the things for the things to work.

Brendan Vermeire:

Tina Moore and I were just talking on her show the other day, because my whole scientific research area of focus and expertise is neuroinflammation and neuroplasticity. I love the angle that I take with it, because sure, just from a technical neurodegenerative disease or mental illness, it’s like, “Okay, you know what, therapeutics have the most promising efficacy for regenerating the brain, whether it’s monoclonal antibodies or psychedelics or whatever.” But I like to take a little bit more of a holistic angle with that neuroinflammation brain on fire, because I do…

I have a lot of compassion. It’s not that I don’t have compassion for what the masses are struggling with, but I don’t have tolerance for self-limiting, self-destructive ideologies, because we can’t enable that, right? That’s the whole point of motivational interviewing is we have to be able to, in a safe environment, help them realize that they’re causing a lot of their own problems. So with what you’re talking about of creating those new habits, to change your habits, you have to change your belief systems, and you literally have to rewire your brain, right?

You’re creating new neural networks associated with this habit rather than this habit or this belief instead of that belief. So my point with this, when the masses, when the population is struggling with higher levels of peripheral and neuroinflammation, it’s a lot harder to create new neural networks, because their brains are slightly on fire. That’s a huge part of the work that I do is helping show people like, “Hey, if we can objectively assess and reduce your neuroinflammation, you will be able to more readily create new neural networks that are aligned with new belief systems that are serving you better, new habits that are healthy habits.”

That’s the angle that I like to take, because I have compassion for it. It’s like… It’s not fully your fault, but you do need to take ownership of your position, and we do need to actually improve this physiology, reduce this neuroinflammatory storm, so then we can make the much harder journey of self discovery and habit development a little bit more feasible.

Michael Roesslein:

For sure. Neuroinflammation, I was lucky enough to… Dr. Kharrazian did a presentation for one of our master classes a few years ago on activated glial cells and neuroinflammation. Halfway through, I realized, “This is for me. I need to be taking notes right now.” I have a history of concussions. I had pretty much everything you can do to have neuroinflammation. I lived my first 25 years of my life as if it were my goal to get my brain as inflamed as I could. I’m actually on day two of a three-day fast right now. I do one every six weeks, because the autophagy and the glial cells and everything.

By the second day, I’ve never taken ADD medication. But for people who do, and it… Because for some people, I’m not a huge… I don’t jump to medications, but for some people with really severe ADHD, they get the right medication, and it’s like a light bulb goes off, and they’re a completely different person. If that’s you out there, there’s absolutely no shame in doing that whatsoever. For me, fasting by the second day, it’s like my brain just goes like this, and it’s like, “Oh this is what normal people can think like.”

It’s not as heavy. It’s not as dark. It’s more clear. It’s more spacious, and it’s just simply fasting. Now, I’ve noticed every time I do it, it’s not as drastic because my baseline is better, because I do a one-day fast every two weeks or so. I’ll do a Sunday where I don’t eat. Then every six weeks, I do three days, and then I’m pretty much eating in an eight-hour window. Just doing that, now, if somebody’s out there with adrenal issues or thyroid issues or blood sugar problems, don’t jump right to what I’m doing, but it’s incredible what it did for my brain.

Then that allows you to do the other things, because on both sides of the fence, the therapist may give the new client all these things to do, or the functional practitioner might give the new client all these things to do. If you live in a weird fog of not feeling good all the time, doing any of those things, very difficult to do. I think that that’s really cool that you mentioned that, and start there because for me, it changed everything. It was just like, “Oh wow. I can have clear thinking.” It’s made a huge change.

I’d love to have another conversation purely on neuroinflammation if you’re down.

Brendan Vermeire:

Oh absolutely.

Michael Roesslein:

Dr. Kay’s presentation was pretty well received, and people have been wanting more of it, so maybe our next chat will be on neuroinflammation.

Brendan Vermeire:

Absolutely.

Michael Roesslein:

We could flip it around, and I could go into some crazy psycho-spiritual stuff I’ve learned in the last few years, and we could trade.

Brendan Vermeire:

Cool. I love that. We’ll be doing a season four of The Holistic Savage podcast, so I got to get you on there so we can riff more.

Michael Roesslein:

All right. Yeah, man, for sure. I’d love… I really do. I want to take a look at your curriculum whenever it’s cool. I mean, if there’s any way I can help, whether it’s just another set of eyes on things, or connections, or anything, I think we’ve stuck our toes in a lot of the same interests and things, so I think it’s awesome. I’m really grateful that you’re creating it. I know what goes into creating something of that size too. It’ll seem huge to the outside world when you release it, and they’ll be like, “Wow, this is big.” Every bit of it that gets public, that seems like X amount of work.

Times it by 10, and that’s what people are actually doing when they create something like this, because half the shit never makes it into the thing, and there’s… Everything goes sideways, and then you have to do this, and you have to reshoot this, and then the audio didn’t record on that video. Then the screen share doesn’t work, and then… I get it. I’m excited to see where it goes, and I hope it could grow. I’m excited. I’m just excited that it exists. Thank you for going through all the shit that you had to go through to figure out that what you’re supposed to do is make that, because really, that’s what it was for.

Brendan Vermeire:

I really appreciate that.

Michael Roesslein:

I’ve realized that too. For a long time, I was bitter about all the shit that I went through, and resentful or… I would’ve wished it away that it didn’t exist or that it didn’t happen. Now I know that all of it had to happen, because I’m stubborn as hell, and I wouldn’t have done all the things that I’ve now done to heal myself and work on myself unless I was at the bottom, unless it was so painful that I had to, or I would die. That was the only way I would do it. I’ve seen people make really big changes without their life being totally destroyed. I’m not one of those people.

Good for you if you’re one of those people, way to be in the upper echelon of human transformation. For those of us that need to get their ass kicked into the ground a bunch of times before they decide, I got to do things a little differently. I’m grateful for the ass kicking, because I wouldn’t have done it.

Brendan Vermeire:

Absolutely.

Michael Roesslein:

That perspective is only easy to say years after it happens, but I’m sure that you have a similar take on what you went through. So where do people go? I was about to sign off.

Brendan Vermeire:

Sure.

Michael Roesslein:

The program doesn’t start till the fall, but let’s drop some URLs here and some links and some social media handles, and then we’ll put them in the show notes down below. But for people who are just listening, where do they go to find out more about your work?

Brendan Vermeire:

Thank you. I appreciate that. Metabolicsolutionsllc.com would be the website. We’ve got the mental map and the FMHP just right on the homepage to make it easy for everybody. Then Instagram’s my main platform, so that’s at The Holistic Savage, where that’s just where I put everything out, and direct people because we all live on Instagram these days, so between those two, not too hard to find.

Michael Roesslein:

Cool. The website’s not live for the program yet.

Brendan Vermeire:

No, we’re building the information page right now, so we’ll be… Right now, we just have a running wait list. We’ve got maybe 100 practitioners on the wait list. Then we’ll be announcing communications as we get the webpage and the curriculum published. That’s what I’m working on this week, actually.

Michael Roesslein:

Cool, man. Well, exciting stuff. Let’s have more chats about more things.

Brendan Vermeire:

Absolutely.

Michael Roesslein:

I look forward to it. Thanks for doing this, and we’ll definitely do more.

Brendan Vermeire:

Absolutely. I’ll look forward to it. Michael, this has been great.