The Natural Evolution Podcast

Season 2

Episode 33

S2E33 – Embracing the Foundation of Gut Health with Dr. Sonza Curtis

As a functional medicine consultant and certified physician assistant, Dr. Sonza L. Curtis dwells on the practice of blending natural medicine with western biomedicine and focuses on Naturopathic Medicine as her major fundamental. Holding the golden rule ”I believe that laughter is good for the healing soul.”, Dr. Sonza Curtis consults her patients wholly, including on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.

Dr. Sonza Curtis joins us in this episode to discuss the foundations and hurdles of achieving total wellness. She explains how her background has shaped her approach to patient success and underlines the importance of gut health. Dr. Curtis also stresses the importance of developing and having a mindful lifestyle.

Seeking more healthcare details from Dr. Sonza Curtis?

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.

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Dr. Sonza Curtis joins us in this episode to discuss the foundations and hurdles of achieving total wellness.
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Dr. Sonza Curtis

Dr. Sonza Curtis, PhD, PAC, IFMCP

About our Guest

Dr. Sonza L. Curtis PhD, PAC, IFMCP grew up in Germany and was largely influenced by the natural home remedies of her great-grandmother – who was a herbalist and midwife. After a decade of practicing, Dr. Curtis realized that she was only managing chronic issues and wanted to focus more on solving the problem & preventative care. After pursuing her doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and consulting for other wellness centers, she founded Three D Wellness in 2011.

She is a Physician Assistant and a Naturopathic Doctor certified in functional medicine through The Institute for Functional Medicine. She enjoys healing guts and reversing autoimmune disorders. She is married, mother of four, and grandmother of four. She loves traveling and medical missionary work.

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S2E33 Embracing the Foundation of Gut Health with Dr. Sonza Curtis

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Podcast Transcript

Michael Roesslein: We are live. I am excited for this one, Dr Sonza, thank you for being here.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Dr Sonza Curtis is our guest today and we have a lot of mutual friends and Bree Weiselman is actually the one who introduced us. She’s been on the podcast. Our audience knows her, but we have not had a conversation before like this so I’m excited to learn about you and what you do and see where it goes. You are set up just outside Atlanta at your practice and before we jump in, I’m just going to do a little bit of an intro and then we can get right to it.

Michael Roesslein:

Dr Sonza Curtis grew up in Germany with a grandmother who was a herbalist who passed down family remedies. She’s a physician assistant and a naturopathic doctor certified in functional medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine and founded ThreeD Wellness in 2011. A plus on the naming on that, I think that’s pretty slick.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Thank you.

Michael Roesslein:

Dr Sonza enjoys helping people heal their guts and reverse their autoimmune disorders. She’s a married mother of four and grandmother of four, and she also loves to travel and do medical missionary work. I am curious about two, well, everything but two things in there. One, grew up in Germany? Were you born there and then how long did you live there for?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

My dad was in the military, so first trip, I was probably around four or five and then we did three tours. Nine out of the 18 years, I grew up in Germany by being a military soldier. I was actually in Berlin when the wall was up so that was interesting.

Michael Roesslein:

Really? Were you there when it came down or you were there in the eighties when it was up?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

No, I was just there early seventies when it was up.

Michael Roesslein:

Early seventies.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Wow. How young were you?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

I was in the seventh grade so what’s that, 13? Yeah, 13.

Michael Roesslein:

That’s old enough to understand.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yeah, 13, 14 and I left, but it was crazy because the Americans could only go through East Berlin at night. My dad was in special forces and so they told us if anything happened at school, they would pick us up in an unmarked car. We would be separated from our parents and so we had to go through these drills every month.

Michael Roesslein:

Wow.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

The war in Ukraine… I didn’t even realize I had a little bit of PTSD when I saw what was going on there, because going through east, they show you how they just came in and just separated the city in the middle of the night. It was interesting.

Michael Roesslein:

That’s pretty intense. My first career, I was a teacher. I taught history. My first degree is in history and I’ve read quite a bit about that time and I’ve actually talked to a couple people who were there, but that’s an environment that nobody that grew up in the US could possibly relate to in any sort of real way. You were back and forth. The rest of the time you were in the States or were you all over?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

All over. We were in Arizona, Virginia. Pretty much that was it. Virginia, Arizona and Germany.

Michael Roesslein:

Your grandmother, who was a herbalist was in the States, right?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yeah. She was actually in a small town right outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. If you miss the turn, you miss the town.

Michael Roesslein:

Cool. I kind of live in one of those now and I went to college in one so I get that. Herbalist, and that got you interested in those type of things when you were young or is it a happenstance or coincidence that she was a herbalist and you became a naturopathic doctor?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

It’s interesting because as a kid, I didn’t know what the heck was going on. I just remember my grandmother would always line us up Spring and Summer and give us this detox with Epsom salt, lemon water and she only had one bathroom so we were clenching our cheeks waiting for the other one to come out the bathroom. If you coughed, she would make up these nasty remedies and ugh, Sadie could make up some nasty remedies.

Michael Roesslein:

Many herbal remedies though are bitter and sour tasting so she probably knew what she was doing.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yes.

Michael Roesslein:

As a kid, you don’t want to drink it.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

I know. It was disgusting. I know that whatever she gave you, it worked, so I had no idea, did not understand the richness of that until I went back to school to become a naturopath and I was like, “Wow, I remember my grandmother using this. I remember my grandmother using this.” She made a tincture. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, but it was an old whiskey bottle that she had all different kind of barks and herbs in there. My aunt still has it to this day and she would just pour whiskey in it and put it underneath her bed because it was clear, but she understood it had to be underneath the bed, out of the sunlight. She would give us a teaspoon of that and if you had menstrual cramps, if you had a cold, she would give that to you and you would sweat. You would literally sweat. The bed would be soaking wet, but when you woke up, you’re fine.

Michael Roesslein:

That’s interesting. I actually don’t know the history of naturopathic medicine in the States or in general or how far back it goes, but it’s people like her from those generations of carrying on the traditional herbalism that is probably what gave naturopathic medicine it’s start, I would guess. That’s what it’s based off of is the traditional healing so it runs in the family, even if you didn’t know it at the time, because it looks like physician assistant is more in the conventional medical space so it looks like that was your route first. Did you want to be a doctor when you were growing up or how did that come about?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

I did and then life happened. I had a lot of issues growing up as a child, suffered multiple episodes of sexual abuse, promiscuous and then became pregnant at the age of 18 so I thought, “My life is over. What am I going to do?” I was actually in college the time I got pregnant and so dropped out, married and then had two kids, was divorced, went back to school and finished my PA degree because at that point I figured PA, MD. I had two kids. I had to support them so I went back to be a PA and then after practicing for years, probably about five or six years, I was just like, “This is ridiculous. Everybody just wants a pill to fix me up. Nobody wants to do anything,” and I wasn’t raised that way because we didn’t go to the doctor.

 

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

My dad was in the military, but heck, if we went to the military doctor, you had to wait two or three hours. I’d be dead by then, so we just did remedies. That’s when I really just started diving deeper and I had some of my own medical issues. Hypertension was one and my dad died at the age of 50 with a massive heart attack and I was just like, “I can’t go down that road,” and so that’s when I start pursuing other things and I loved the naturopath and then I pursued that and then came full circle and found out that what my grandmother was doing.

Michael Roesslein:

Wow. That’s a really interesting arc and a lot of rough stuff in there, too and I’m really sorry about some of that you shared there. I had a son at 18 as well so I get the feeling of my life as over, what am I going to do? How do I handle this? People are like, “Was that really fun?” I was like…

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

No.

Michael Roesslein:

It was something and now he’ll be 23 in May and people are like, “You have a kid that’s 23,” but I’m 41 so if you do the math, that’s where it came out. I can relate to being a really young parent, because you’re a child at 18. Now when I look at an 18 year old, I’m like, “That’s a kid,” so everybody does the best they can and it’s really cool that you made it to… PA is no joke. If people out there don’t know what a PA is, that’s just short of MD as far as the amount of schooling goes. It’s kind of like nurse practitioner probably level of years of time and all of that. You can practice as a PA in your own practice, right?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yes. You just have to have a supervising physician. It was brutal because you go 28 months straight, maybe two weeks for Christmas, if that. Brutal. Most of the classes were right with the physicians and so it was just med school on steroids.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Wow. The other thing I want to ask about before we get into the gut is medical missionary work and what is that?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Wow. In 2005, I went to South Africa. Unbeknownst to me, I was just going for a medical mission and so I looked at my mission leader and I said, “We’re doing medical mission.” I had all the stuff together because I was going to go over there for somebody else to do, but I said, “Who’s the leader?” He said, “Look in the mirror,” and I was like, “What the heck?” I had to lead the whole medical team and I remember the second I got there the first day, I turned everything up to the pastor’s wife and we actually had clinic out of her living room and her garage was the waiting room and when I went back the next day…

Michael Roesslein:

This is going to provide medical service for really underdeveloped places and people who don’t have access.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

No access at all or the access that they did have, was very little.

Michael Roesslein:

There are organizations that this has done through?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yes. Yes.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay. Cool.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yes. I went through Life Ministries and it was good. It was through my current church and so it was just a great experience. At the time, I was a PA doing ENT and I had to deliver two babies. I delivered a placenta and a baby while I was there so that was fun. I had the ladies come and they were doing their Cosa language and I had no idea what they were saying. She grabbed the bag and we went running and this young lady had walked seven miles in labor. Seven miles in labor and so when I got there, they had delivered the baby, they had chewed the umbilical cord and tied it but the placenta was still there. I’m in South Africa on the side of a dirt hilly road having to go after an adherent placenta.

Michael Roesslein:

As an ENT physician’s assistant?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yes.

Michael Roesslein:

Ear, nose, throat for people that don’t know medical terminology. That’s the wrong places.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yes. It was the wrong head.

Michael Roesslein:

Now you enjoy it. It says that’s what you enjoy doing…

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yes.

Michael Roesslein:

…or choose to do so obviously this experience was overwhelming and a little terrifying, but it was probably also really fascinating and interesting and rewarding.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Very rewarding. I came back and people were just wanting to not, I don’t know. I didn’t have the patience, like you were saying, having the patience for people in the US. We don’t understand how well we have it. When we got to the clinic, there was nothing but RNs there and so they asked me, “Did I get everything?” I was like, “I don’t know, check her,” but that was it. They didn’t go in, they didn’t do anything. They sent her home. She ripped, there was no episiotomy. Let’s go home, have a nice life, vaccinated the baby, feces all in the baby, everything and I’m like, “Aren’t you going to clean it up?” They’re like, “No, this is what we do here.” It really made me appreciate the training that I had and just the medical system. I know we complain about our current medical system, but compared to other countries, it is phenomenal.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Interesting. I’d love to have another chat sometime where maybe we just talk stories from your medical missionary work. I think that’d be really fun and I think that level of perspective is important for people to get that they don’t hear often. It really often shifts their own how they see their own situation and what we deal with. I know in the functional medicine space, the conventional medical world tends to get thrown under the bus quite a bit, and I’m married to an emergency nurse so I know. I have a lot of friends in both sides, I’ll say. I have friends that are in the conventional side and there’s definitely room and a place for both and emergency is where conventional medicine really shines, I think. I just like to see them play better together is where I would like to see things head and there’s more and more MDs and people from the conventional side I’m seeing going through IFM and doing the training. It’s encouraging. Let’s talk a little bit about your practice now. ThreeD Wellness. Is there three DS? Do the D’s stand for something?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Three dimension of wellness, mind, body, and spirit and plus I had three degrees, so that’s why I went with that.

Michael Roesslein:

Clever. All right. We’re going to talk about gut health today. Our audience enjoys gut health quite a bit, and learning about it and talking about it. Those are your two primary that you like to focus on is gut health and autoimmune disease and in a lot of ways, those are the same thing or linked strongly. We’ve done a lot of stuff over here where people highlight the connections between leaky gut or different issues in the gut and systemic inflammation and autoimmune conditions and things like that. Your patient base then, and the people who come to you and learn from you, they’re either dealing with some sort of GI symptoms a lot of the time or gut health issues or autoimmune disease. Do the people who come to you, do they know these two things are related or is it these are totally unrelated. Really? That can be connected to this. Where are you usually starting off with people where you’re educating them on this?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

I take a very intense history and then the timeline and then with that, I go back over that with them and I just give them my interpretation. I’m looking at this, I think sleep is one of the root causes of your issues, along with your gut. I also go over and I have a copywritten infographics that I always go over it with them showing them the gut brain connection. You may be suffering from headaches, autoimmune, acne, all these other things, but the root cause is your gut. How I really got into it, my oldest daughter, we all have a story, how we got started.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

My oldest daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild, the one I had when I was 18 years old, and previous to that, she had had multiple mystery symptoms. She had oral allergy syndrome, she had panic attacks. She just had a lot of other things that we just couldn’t put our finger on and when she got pregnant, I’m like, okay, I knew how important the thyroid was for a developing fetus so we checked her thyroid and unbeknownst to us, we found out that she had antibodies. Now she’s Hashimoto’s. I’m not her OB, I can’t do anything about it and so we just started with diet and taking out gluten and dairy and she fought me. She’s like, “Mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” but then oral allergy syndrome went away and then all of her symptoms got better.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Then I start diving deeper and that’s how I got working with the autoimmune and gut because of my own experience and now she’s fine. She’s not on any medications. She’s had her second child.

Michael Roesslein:

Good.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

She’s doing well. I use my daughter’s story a lot, because I do a lot of Hashimoto’s, but then at the root cause she had Epstein Bar and that was just driving her antibodies crazy. That’s another reason I love the autoimmune, but we all know, the gut is a second brain. All the crazy things that they’re doing with sequencing, the gut microbiome is fascinating and I think that finding diseases, early detection with bacteria, like Klebsiella Pneumoniae, with correlation with Ankylo Spondylosis, it’s like, wow. If you have somebody that doesn’t have the diagnosis, Ankylo Spondylosis and they have overgrowth of Klebsiella, it’s like, okay, let’s eradicate that so you don’t get Ankylo Spondylosis. That’s the fascinating part and I try to explain it to them and how important even simple stuff like digestion. Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees and so it’s simple digestion, chewing your food, making sure you’re doing mindful eating.

Michael Roesslein:

We talk about this a lot. A lot of my guests come on and they talk about how… I haven’t worked one on one with clients in five years. I did some functional health coaching. I ran some labs. I went through an FDN program. I studied with a lot of the people at IFM. I just can’t get the certs because I’m not licensed, but people would come to me and they’d want to do all this super complex stuff. They want the protocols, the lab tests, the supplement regimens, all these things and then I would ask them some simple questions about where they eat their food or how they eat it or when they eat it or what time do they go to sleep or what’s their stress level like or what’s their home life like or how often do they go outside? These are all really, really, really basic fundamental things and that stuff would be all over the place.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Michael, I don’t want to…

Michael Roesslein:

They want this two thousand dollars in lab tests.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

I don’t want to hear that, Michael.

Michael Roesslein:

You can run a whole bunch of lab tests for me to tell you the same stuff to do and it’s so simple and I love that it gets repeated a lot. I think there was a trend for a little while where the practitioners, a lot of them were bought into that too, that the more lab tests and the more this and the more complex ways to treat these things and let’s look at the biochemistry and the genetics and the supplement. I think that the simplicity of a lot of it got completely overlooked and if you’re dealing with somebody who is up till two in the morning, has really high stress levels, is eating in the car, doesn’t chew their food, is eating sugary stuff that the blood sugar spikes and all that or they’re not getting outside at all.

Michael Roesslein:

If you’re working from that foundation, what are those labs and those supplements and all that stuff… It’s an uphill battle. I want to stay there for a second. You mentioned chewing your food, which seems like something you would have to teach a toddler, but I’m guilty of this. You mentioned mindful eating. I was someone, until I started to really pay attention that I would plow through my food in two seconds and chew it twice and swallow it. Can you talk about what’s the consequence of that or why do you want to be more mindful or slow down when you’re eating?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Digestion.

Michael Roesslein:

Sorry for the rant.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

No, no, that’s fine. I’m an analogy princess, so I love analogies. I always tell patients, when you eat, the food goes into your stomach, your stomach starts making the enzymes and all that to break the food down, but if it’s not broken down smaller, so it can break it down or you don’t have enough gastric acid, that food just sits there so you get the distension and the gas and the bloating. Then when it dumps it into the small intestines, it’s like peanut butter. If it’s fully digested, it’s creamy. If it’s partly digested, it’s crunchy. How are you going to extrapolate those nutrients for your recommended daily allowance and you don’t have the food that’s broken down to the proper source so you can extrapolate that?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Sometimes it’s simple. People want to go and they want to do, like you said, all these tests. These tests are going to tell me you’ve got leaky gut. Duh. You want to pay all this money to tell me you got leaky gut when your history is telling me that, so digestion is key to getting the nutrients down. For instance, you get a vitamin mix. You’re making a smoothie and you put spinach in there. If you don’t completely do the full cycle, you’re going to have chunks of spinach. It’s going to be nasty. You’re not going to want to eat that. It’s the same thing with your gut. If it’s not broken down to its proper form, it’s chyme when it gets into the small intestines and then it’s like thick paint.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

If your microvilli cannot absorb it, I call that the bounty picker upper, that’s where all the absorption starts and then the base of the [inaudible 00:23:12] site, I call that the factory, that’s where it’s broken down. Then it goes to the lamina propria and then it goes to the bloodstream. If it doesn’t go that proper way, then how are we going to recommend a daily allowance of nutrients? Half of it is stuck up there, then that’s when we start causing issues within the small intestine, small intestine bowel overgrowth.

Michael Roesslein:

Something other than you gets to eat it.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yeah. Then you get all the macrophages and you got inflammation and I’m an old bird, so in the fifties we used to watch Will Robinson where it’s like danger, danger, Will Robinson. It’s a body cell danger response that really starts that whole inflammatory inflammation cascade and it starts in the gut.

Michael Roesslein:

Which starts in the mouth.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Starts in the mouth. Yep.

Michael Roesslein:

Simple things. The mindful eating. Can you speak to that just a little bit? What do you mean by mindfulness or mindful during your meals?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Just chewing your food. Literally sitting down and chewing the food. Most of the times we chew our food. We overeat. If we don’t chew it completely, then we’re just stuffing, stuffing, stuffing. It takes about 10 minutes for the brain to really realize, okay, you’re full. If you’re swallowing and just guzzling your food or you’re watching TV and just not even paying attention to what you’re doing, it’s the main reason we overeat. Chewing your food 30 to 40 times. I know that sounds really crazy, but just chewing it and then being present with your food. I know there are times I do a little ritual with my food and I try to just close my eyes and sometimes I’m like, what am I eating? I know I’m eating a green bean, but what about this green bean? Is it crunchy?

Michael Roesslein:

Bringing the awareness to the full experience of the food. That almost feels like a gratitude opportunity as well. There’s more of an emotional or spiritual aspect to the eating…

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yes.

Michael Roesslein:

…because it’s not something you’re also doing.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

You’re being. You want to be.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Eating seems to be something we are also doing while we’re watching something or doing something or cooking something or driving somewhere or whatever and so it brings the eating to be the thing that you are doing and that you’re focusing on that. There’s research that shows just doing that increases saliva production, it increases stomach acid. It starts the thing, because your body knows that you’re eating, go figure. I want to make a note to myself to try to do that more often. I grew up eating in front of the TV and by myself, too and so that’s a place that feels really comfortable to me to grab some food and sit and watch something or whatever. I noticed that I will eat way more when I’m doing that, because you mentioned a 10 minute something there.

Michael Roesslein:

That doesn’t happen when you’re engaged and that’s why somebody can go to a movie and they can get that popcorn that’s like half the size of their body. If you had to sit there and you were in a room and you weren’t watching a movie and someone was like, “Here, eat all this popcorn.”

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

You wouldn’t eat it.

Michael Roesslein:

No way. You would get sick. You’ll still get sick, but no way could you actually eat it one bite at a time paying attention to the popcorn, but if you’re zoned in on that movie and there’s the salty taste in your mouth and your hand is just going, you can see a whole theater full of people plow through that giant popcorn. I’ve never really thought about it as much as that though, that the distraction eliminates that, okay, you’re full. It’s time to stop eating because you’re eating so fast and if you eat slower, your full response, because it lags a little…

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yes.

Michael Roesslein:

…behind the eating.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

It does and so we just has to be mindful of that. Not only that. I deal with a lot of professional women and either they’re eating at their desk, running down the hall. I used to do it. Taking care of patients. I used to see 33 patients a day.

Michael Roesslein:

Wow.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Your lunch hour was… Driving in Atlanta, we drive from one location to another location and then you’re eating in your car. That’s when I started to gain weight is when I started doing the commute. Actually a study is showing the longer the commute, the increase that you have in obesity, just in the commute alone, because what did we do in our commute? Like you said, mindless eating.

Michael Roesslein:

Sit and eat. Yeah. Sit and eat.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Drink. That’s the other one. We buy Big Gulps and you see people drinking out of those and we don’t even think about how many calories that we consume that way.

Michael Roesslein:

No, and it’s incredible how big they’ve gotten. I haven’t drunk that stuff in a really long time. I did growing up, I went to the Seven Eleven and I drank the… I never was a huge soda person, but I would get slurpees and stuff like that, but it seems that like every five years, the size of those gets exponentially larger. Now they’re things you have to carry with two hands, which are probably enough calories for an individual to exist off of for a week. That’s something I noticed moving here to Italy is they don’t have that. There’s not fountain drink convenience store type of… They’ll sell soda, but it’ll be in glass bottles and the ingredients, most of it are real things.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Three or four things, not 12.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Three or four things, not 29 things and 16 forms of sugar and whatever and if it’s ginger soda, there’s actual ginger as an ingredient. Things like that. Yeah, it’s an incredible amount and they’ll plow through it while they’re working every day. You drink one of those every day, that’s a fast track to diabetes right there, especially if you’re sitting the whole time.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yes.

Michael Roesslein:

That makes sense, because the longer you’re in a commute, the shorter you’re going to be doing anything else, which would involve moving potentially. That’s interesting. We need to get complex. People might listen to this conversation and brush it off, but I think these really basic fundamental things that shift perspective on how we’re living our life and then how our health then resembles that. Have you got any other favorite, and the analogies are awesome, by the way, the metaphors.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Thank you.

Michael Roesslein:

Nice work.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Thank you.

Michael Roesslein:

Explaining the layers of the gut and the different physiology of it, people can glaze over really quick, but all of those things are easy to understand. Any other really basic simple things that you find yourself often repeating or that you see people who miss the boat on a lot that they’re not doing, that they should be or that they are doing that they shouldn’t.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

I think for the aha moment for people to go, like you were asking, do they ever ask you, why the gut? I explain to them, that’s the foundation. If you don’t have a solid foundation, I don’t care what you’re going to do, the house is going to crash, so that’s where I start. That doesn’t mean that’s where I end. If I give you supplements or you’re taking medication and you’re not absorbing them, then how much is that really getting through? That’s when the aha moment comes in and because once those tight junctures, and they hold those in those cells in the gut together, once they’re compromised and they’re open and they’re gone, then that’s when all the stuff gets in and that’s inflammation.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

That’s when disease starts, food sensitivities and different things of that nature start. Just simple things I have patients do. I don’t start really with AIP, elimination diet, because most of my patients, they come in on the standard American diet. Very few come in otherwise. I take them gluten, dairy and sugar. I’m like, if you could take three things out of your diet, take three supplements, hence ThreeD Wellness. Three things out of your diet and three supplements, then we can go to the next level, but if you walk out of here with tons of supplements and I scare you with all these things that you can’t take. I like to empower my patients with not giving you a fish, but teaching you to fish. I’m giving you the framework.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

You can be the creator and you can design what you want, how you want it, but just take the bad stuff out of it and then they feel empowered and then they come back and they say, “It wasn’t really that hard,” and I’m like, “Yes.” That’s the biggest thing that I find working with functional medicine people. You have to change your mindset. You can do all this crazy stuff out there that you want to do, but if you don’t change your mindset in the beginning, you’re stuck. I have a patient right now, she literally is 77 pounds and she takes 60 supplements. She’s attached to her supplements. Every time I take one away, she goes to a summit, she reads something else and she adds five more. She’s got a lot of psychosocial issues, abuse as a child so I really can’t get anywhere with her. I don’t care how much gut I can talk to her. She needs to see a therapist.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

That’s another reason why in mind, body medicine is when to understand, I am working outside of my element and it’s time to give it to somebody else. That’s what I find a lot of times with functional medicine practitioners, we have to know when to pass it on, to refer and this is why she needs to see a psychiatrist. I can’t do anything for her. There’s nine pathways from the gut to the brain. There’s one pathway from the brain to the gut, so it’s important to keep all those things in check and there’s psycho neuro immunology. Yes, it can start here, manifest here or starts here, goes here and then manifests throughout your whole entire body. Gut health to me is the second brain. It’s where I start. It’s the foundation and not unless they have acute something else going on, that’s where I always start.

Michael Roesslein:

I love the simplicity of take these three things out, take three supplements. It allows somebody to have an easier win at the beginning. It took me a while to learn to dial things back a little bit. When I first started learning all this stuff, I would do my consult with the person and I would be like, “You need to do these 117 things and take these 11 supplements and cut out all these foods and then you need to work out twice a day and you need to go do this thing and then you’ll be awesome if you do all this, you’ll be fine.” I actually had one client ever out of all my clients I’ve ever had. I had one client ever who actually did all the things that I wanted her to do and she did it great and she stuck to them.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Wow.

Michael Roesslein:

That’s it. One. I know what it’s like to try to start too many things and then fail them and then be like, I’m just not going to do any of these things and I stuck. That then compounds.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yep.

Michael Roesslein:

I love the small wind and the easier steps and the patient that you mentioned is taking 60 supplements and weighs 77 pounds and that that person needs mental emotional support and they need probably some trauma work and things like that. I’ve actually spent over three years now creating a second platform to this one that’s focused entirely on mental, emotional, spiritual, energetic trauma type things, because that’s where my attention turned and that’s where my own journey went and then I was like, something like this needs to exist.

Michael Roesslein:

We’re actually trying to create a referral system program for health practitioners to use the platform, to help their people find what is their jam when it comes to that, because there’s not one modality over there either that’s perfect for everybody. We’re actually trying to create an AI type of system that can help people find, is it hypnotherapy or is it this trauma therapy or is it somatic therapy or is it meditation or is it a religious based thing? I’m working on creating that because I think that’s the elephant in the room when it comes to functional medicine, is that your work can only go so far with people if they’re not in the place to do it.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yeah. That’s amazing, Michael, because it is so needed. When you sit down and start doing the timeline and the trauma that these people are going through or they’ve been through and you’re just like, how are you still surviving? No wonder you have gut issues. A lot of the gut issues really stem from sexual abuse and vaginal issues. They’re all from sexual abuse and so as functional medicine practitioners, we are not equipped. We are not equipped to handle those things. [inaudible 00:37:32] and then having that person really understanding, I have a problem. That’s what we focus on, too, is not only just eating and movement, but emotional and spiritual mindfulness healing and so I have a group of people in the Metro Atlanta area that I refer out to.

Michael Roesslein:

Beautiful.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

I’ve been using ketamine a lot. Ketamine therapy and that’s been pretty exciting. I did it myself. It was awesome.

Michael Roesslein:

I have, too. I don’t usually get into this on every podcast episode, but I have life history of really severe suicidal depression and anxiety, things along various angles of that. I’ve done some ketamine therapy and it was a needle mover.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

I’ll say it that way. I have some friends who are in that world that do that work now and I think it’s interesting because the MDMA and some of those are going through phase three trials. I think there will be some interesting times ahead with what they’re going to be capable of doing, but I love that you have a referral network and that you’re not trying to be the everything for the individual. I love the awareness that’s going on in functional medicine now around trauma and around these things. It’s a hot buzzword in the industry where 10 years ago, I remember the first time I saw somebody present on it at a conference, they presented the ACEs study and the increases in addiction and autoimmune diseases in this and this and this and this and I was like, “What?” Then the presentation ended and then everybody just got up and walked out of the room and went to do the other thing. I’m like, “Where is everybody going? We need to know more about this. Why isn’t anybody talking about this?”

Michael Roesslein:

The statistics are unbelievable and I’m also adopted and I’ve learned statistics around adoptees, too are eight times more likely for addiction and six times more likely for suicide and all these things. Practitioners need to be informed of these things. People need to know this and when I found that out, I was like, “Why is everyone walking out of the room right now?” Now, they’re in the room…

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

…and they’re listening and they’re paying attention and I think there’s just a divide between what they’re understanding is important and then what they are actually able to do about it because the functional doctor, be a doctor, be a really good doctor…

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Not a therapist.

Michael Roesslein:

…and then find really good people to do the other thing because you can’t. As much as somebody wants to, you can’t get super good at a whole bunch of different things. It takes a life of learning and of practice to get really skilled at things and I see really well intentioned people trying to learn, I’m going to now deal with trauma and I’m also doing lab testing and I’m also doing functional medicine and I’m also going to do energy healing and it’s like, you’re going to kind of learn to do a whole bunch of stuff and you’re not going to do any of it very well just because that’s literally impossible.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yeah. You can’t. That’s the autoimmune work, too, because it’s autoimmune when you really think about, it’s a lot of trauma issues and it’s self hate. The things that are your tissue memory and what really came to the light for me was when I was 18, I was in school, I did not want a child. I can remember literally going to the abortion clinic, laying on the abortion table and it was like laying in the pits of hell. They came up and they told me, “You’re too far along. You need more money.” I’m like, “I had to borrow, beg and steal.” I was a college student, where am I going to get more money from. At this time, you couldn’t use your insurance so I said, “God, if you get me off this table, I will never come back.”

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

My daughter, she was born, she was great. She was spoiled, but she was born C-section so all that resistance was like resistance in birth. Then it was resistance and she had issues when she was… She was ill. All of that is also going back to that trauma, that preconception trauma that the parent went through, that sometimes we’re aware of and sometimes we’re really not. I just happened to share that with her, just to help her get through her hurdles, which helped her heal or get me in remission for autoimmune disorders because she was aware of those things. Just like you, with the adoption, it gives that rejection, okay, my parents didn’t want me, that type of thing and so I just think it’s fascinating that our tissues have self memory and self hate and we really don’t even know the origin. A lot of times, even when patients go to the therapist, they don’t know. That’s why the ketamine was just so fascinating and I don’t know if you’ve heard of QNRT, Quantum Neuro Retraining Therapy?

Michael Roesslein:

I think so, but I’m going to write it down just in case. Okay. It sounds interesting.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yeah. It’s like retraining the brain a little bit and so it’s this really crazy thing and I was with this therapist and I had issues with my mom because my father was actually the initial sexual abuser and at the time, it was irregular behavior, not to your child. It was nothing bigger than that. I didn’t process it until I was 27 years old and so then when he finally got to about 40, me and my mom had the conversation, but my mom figured because we didn’t have intercourse, it didn’t happen to us so we had a very strange relationship. My mother had multiple myeloma and thank God she thrived for 13 years with the help of what I was doing with her, but she died in 2020 and had I not gone through therapy before working with a QNRT, I would have been a mess because I would have had all these things that I had, but she was able to pinpoint it.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

It’s really funny because I’m sitting there and as she’s retraining the brain, you’re using all your senses. You’re winking, you’re doing all this stuff and she’s retraining. If you look at it, you think this is really some hocus pocus crap and I didn’t believe it at first, but when I tell you it was the best thing that happened to me other than the ketamine and I could probably buy three houses from what I’ve paid in therapy in my life. Thank God it’s work, but I still was stuck and that’s where a lot of functional medicine patients were. They’re stuck. They’re just like, I’m right there, but I can’t get there.

Michael Roesslein:

Which is better than where I was, but it’s not where I want to be.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yep. They want Jonathan Wright. They want Amy Meyers. People come to me and they, I want Mark Hyman and I said, “You know what? I treat based on your history and what you’re going on, not your disease, but we have to meet you where you’re at.” I’m sorry I went on a rant.

Michael Roesslein:

No, that was beautiful. I’m definitely going to check that out and I think there’s a whole nother conversation we could have around some of the psycho spiritual connections to disease. I get really excited because right now, my life and my work is really trying to pull the two sides together. I have the one platform that’s more functional medicine and I have one that’s on the other side and just as much as the functional medicine people tend to be naive when it comes to those things, the people over there that are therapists and counselors and healer types, they’re pretty naive when it comes to the fact that what their clients or patients are eating has an effect on their mental and emotional health or that their lifestyle habits will impact how they feel and that the therapies they’re doing will be more effective with certain aspects of nutrition and functional medicine.

Michael Roesslein:

I’m trying to just mush everybody together and make them have idea babies, but I love hearing stories like this. I think that that’s really the depth of healing that needs to happen for a lot of these complex illnesses. Why is everybody so allergic to mold now or reactive to mold? Why does everybody have this thing? Why are there all these infections? Why are there so many autoimmune diseases? Yes, there’s way more toxic crap that we’re exposed to…

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Yes.

Michael Roesslein:

…but what makes us so susceptible to these things? Why are we so non resilient, whatever the right word would be there? The opposite of resilience. Where has the resilience gone? People don’t realize how damaging those emotional and mental and even physical those traumas are, and it doesn’t go anywhere.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

It does. It goes to your gut.

Michael Roesslein:

Traditional cultures have things for this. It goes to your gut, but traditional cultures have things for… In almost every traditional culture, there are ways that they dealt with these things and that these things would be processed and talked about in the open and done and there was ceremony and there was all these things and our culture just puts it in a little box and puts it in the corner and nobody talks about it. It’s shame if you bring it up and then your little box gets passed on to the next one and their little box and they have your box and the other box and all the boxes and now we’re seeing generations of that for a whole bunch. I get excited every time I see somebody really doing the work because they’re breaking it the lineage of it.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

What goes on in this house stays in this house, right? That’s what we were taught when we were a kid.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Yeah. Even that, even if it was even discussed in the house, a lot of times… I went to a private Lutheran school. I was raised in the church thing. You don’t talk about nothing. You don’t ask questions then you just learn that and then you learn that it’s not okay to say anything…

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Verbalize it.

Michael Roesslein:

…to stand up. Yeah. Verbalize anything or acknowledge it even. It just goes away.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

You take the sins and the shame and you wear it and you feel like you have this billboard on your face where it’s like, I am shame. I am guilty. A lot of people walk around with that.

Michael Roesslein:

Your body hears that, too.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

I’m a little bit of an intuitive, too, so sometimes I’ll look at somebody and I’m like, “You’ve got to let go of the guilt,” and they look at me like, what? I remember my weirdest thing is I told this lady, “Give your husband his balls back because you just castrated him.” I’m like, “It’s not him. You look in the mirror.” I think we just have to find that origin of what it is and find that person that’s right for that individual person, because you can have two therapists and one can be better because they just reach that person. I’m fortunate, there’s a functional psychiatrist. There’s actually two and we have an Amen Clinic here in Atlanta, so we’re pretty fortunate in that way.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

I work with Dr Naveen Thomas and he does ketamine. He is fabulous and so we do that. He’ll send patients to me, you’ve got to get your hormones, you got to get your thyroid right. You have to get those things right in conjunction of what I’m doing and I’m not going to give you all these antidepressants and all that so we’re going to work together. If you need to do that, then that’s fine. I don’t should on anybody. That’s the thing they teach us in functional medicine is meet them where they’re at, so if we’re going to shame them as practitioners, are we really doing our work?

Michael Roesslein:

No. That’s just redoing the shame. Nobody likes to be told what they have to do. It’s what you can do. There’s a different reframing. I know we’re about out of time. I could talk to you for another hour about some of this stuff so we should probably schedule another chat to get a little bit more into that side. I’d love to hear your experiences with it, too. Actually I’ll bring you over there because that platform, we’re going to have podcasts and I’m going to be looking for people on the functional medicine side to come over there and chat about bridging the gap and so I’ll hit you up and we can chat over there on that.

Michael Roesslein:

We’ve talked about your ThreeD clinic, where should people go on the web? We’ll have the links below in the show notes for people that are on the page and everything, but if somebody’s just listening right now, where do they want to go to check out your practice and what you do and follow your work?

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

It’s ThreeD Wellness. The three is spelled out and D wellness so it looks like ThreeD Wellness or you can follow me on Instagram. It’s D-R period Psalms of Curtis and I’m coming out with a gut course, coming up probably within the next 30 to 45 days so if you follow me there, stay tuned there. It will drop and it’s just basic stuff to just help you get started on your health healing journey, healing from within with the gut remedy.

Michael Roesslein:

All right, cool and kudos to you for being able to keep up with Instagram. I fail at it all the time.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

You want me to let you in a little secret? I hire somebody to do it. She’s a good friend of mine.

Michael Roesslein:

We’re working on doing something like that over here. I’ve tried to do it and I just can’t. I can’t even keep track of my own life let alone handle the social media, so good on you. Go over there. Dr. Sonza Curtis at Instagram and then the website, ThreeD Wellness. Three is spelled, D wellness. Check out the site and thank you so much for sharing so openly about so many things that don’t often get talked about. I think that it’s really important for people to hear these conversations so we thought we were going to talk about the basics of gut health and we talked about quantum neuro retraining and trauma therapy. I think it’s beautiful sharing and I just appreciate what you’re doing in the world and it was great to chat with you.

Dr. Sonza Curtis:

Thank you and you’re doing a wonderful job.

Michael Roesslein:

Thank you.