The Natural Evolution Podcast

Season 2

Episode 35

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

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About our Guest

Dr. Josh Friedman, Psy.D., CFMP, FDN-P earned his doctorate in Psychology from New York University and did post-doctoral training in Psychoanalysis from the Training and Research Institute for Self Psychology (TRISP) in New York City.

After working in the field for a few years, he realized that something was missing from traditional mental health treatment. Curiosity and a chance meeting led him to discover the world of Nutritional Psychology, which teaches that many psychological issues are caused or made worse by underlying biochemical/nutritional deficiencies.

Along the way he became certified as a yoga teacher, incorporating the emphasis on breathing techniques, meditation and movement into his work, as essential tools for working with mental health at the deepest levels. To enhance his effectiveness in helping people heal and grow, he became certified as a Holistic Health Counselor at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York and went on to earn a Diploma of Comprehensive Nutrition (Dip.CN) from Huntington College of Health Sciences. He has been lead to go deeper into the biochemistry of mental health by becoming a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and studying with mental health nutrition greats such as Julia Ross, MA, Dr. Charles Gant, MD, and Dr. William Walsh, Ph.D. Dr. Josh started Alternative Mental Health Solution to help people find and fix the ROOT cause of their mental health struggles.

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Podcast Transcript

Michael Roesslein:

Wait, hold on. All right. And we are live. This is my first podcast recording in a while, so I will do my best. I am here with someone that I’ve known quite a while. We’ve had some very interesting off camera discussions, so I’m excited to get some of it on the record. I’m with Dr. Josh Friedman. Josh, thanks for being here.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Thanks for having me, Michael.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, it’s going to be fun. This is, you kind of work in both, I’ll call sides of healing that I’ve found myself kind of moving from one to the other and seeing where those lines blur. And, there’s not very many professionals that are in my circles that work on both the health and functional medicine type side, and the psychology, and therapy and deeper healing work side. And part of me cringes every time I use the word side in that discussion, because as we all know, there really are not sides to healing.

And in this conversation, maybe we can talk about the importance of including both of those approaches. But before we get started, I want to introduce Dr. Friedman. He earned his doctorate in psychology from New York University and did post-doctoral training in psychoanalysis from the Training and research Institute for Self Psychology in New York City. After working in the field for a few years, he realized that something was missing from traditional mental health treatment, and curiosity in a chance meeting led him to discover the world of nutritional psychology, which teaches that many psychological issues are caused or made worse by underlying biochemical or nutritional deficiencies. Along the way, he became certified as a yoga teacher, incorporating the emphasis on breathing techniques, meditation and movement into his work, as essential tools for working with mental health at the deepest levels.

To enhance his effectiveness in helping people heal and grow, Josh became certified as a holistic health counselor at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York and went on to earn a diploma of comprehensive nutrition from Huntington College of Health Sciences. And finally, he’s been led to go deeper into the biochemistry of mental health by becoming a certified functional medicine practitioner and studying with mental health nutrition grades, such as Julia Ross, Dr. Charles Gant and Dr. William Walsh. I am familiar with all of their work. And I think William Walsh, I believe his clinic was near where I used to live in Illinois.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

It is.

Michael Roesslein:

And, is it? Yeah. Dr. Josh started alternative mental health solution to help people find and fix the root causes of their mental health struggles. So that’s a lot, you’ve been a businessman-

Dr. Josh Friedman:

That is a lot.

Michael Roesslein:

… for quite some time. Where do you live now? Are you not in New York City now, are you?

Dr. Josh Friedman:

No, I live in Nebraska.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

It’s- Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay. I think a little different than the Apple.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Yeah, it is a little bit different.

Michael Roesslein:

All right. So you started on the side of psychology and found the nutritional side of things in the biochemistry side of things. So I’m curious, what drew you in the first place to going towards a doctorate in psychology? What interested you in psychology from the beginning?

Dr. Josh Friedman:

So, I was like a really happy go lucky kid, and I got to college and I adjusted very, very poorly. And I went into a deep depression, anxiety experiences like I had never had. And it took me a decade or more, many decades to sort of find my way out of this pretty profound fog and suffering. And, I ended up not like trying to find therapists and not really having a go of it. And then after my fifth or sixth therapist, I found my person. By the time I’d gotten to New York, I’d already started my clinical training in psychology and the impetus was to help people, was to help people not go through what I went through. And then the man I saw, I call him my psychic father was, he was a Buddhist Jewish psychoanalyst who was open to energy, healing and all this stuff that I didn’t really understand that well.

And he grew me up and he opened my heart, and opened me and I started meditating and I felt love. And that’s sort of like, that’s like the seeds of the beginning of my journey, where I became human in a way. And I became human through his love, I think. I call it vitamin L. It was love that was the seeds of this, of my journey. Suffering combined with love with, which may [inaudible 00:05:08]-

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Well, the suffering got you in the door.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

I wouldn’t say I’m wise. I was… Yes. I think I was in pain and introducing love into suffering, love into the pain allowed it to become suffering. Like in a Buddhist, kind of like, oh, this is meaningful. It didn’t feel meaningful before, so I found myself in this field, and then I started to look at the field and examine the field, like as the time I’m about to graduate and realize like, “Oh, they’re missing pieces here.” And some of those missing pieces, I actually had this experience, one of my first jobs was working at one of the best eating disorder centers in New York, called the Renfrew Center. And they did the most amazing, wonderful wraparound treatment. There was therapy, there was nutrition, there was psychiatry, there was movement therapy, there was yoga, so state-of-the-art at the time.

And we would eat food, we would eat meals with the clients, it was a day treatment program. And I realized they were serving food from the local, like [Bodega 00:06:22]. So, the quality of food they were serving these folks was so low. And I sort of tried to bring it up. And they were like, they didn’t think that… Like, it didn’t register for them. And then, my wife was seeing someone like a doctor, who was working with her hormones, pre-functional medicine. He was a chiropractor, who called himself like a biochemical nutritionist. And he said something that changed everything for me, he said, “Do you know why your anorexic patients don’t get better?” And, I didn’t have an answer to it. And he paused and he says, “Because they don’t eat enough protein and because they don’t eat enough zinc,” because zinc creates hydrochloric acid, which breaks down the protein, which becomes the seeds, becomes the amino acids, which build the neurotransmitters. And for me, that like that was new information.

So, I’d done seven years of training. I’d been through psychoanalysis, personally. I had gone through, I’d never once in the seven years of training heard any of these brilliant therapists say anything about the link between protein and neurotransmitters of mood. And so, this moment I was like, “Whoa.” And he handed me a book and the book was called The Mood Cure by Julia Ross.

Michael Roesslein:

I remember when the first time I read that book too.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

It’s genius and she’s an amazing, amazing… We owe her in the field of mental health, a deep gratitude, because she was a therapist who was bumping up against patients that weren’t healing through the therapeutic technique she was using. And, she realized that these were people whose brains were starving in different ways. And she wrote this book that cataloged some of the basics, not the biochemistry that is available now, just the basics of amino acid therapy. And so, I took this information and I went back to the eating disorder center and I was like, “This is amazing.” It’s like, I was lit up. “I think we should have this doctor come and do an in-service for us.” And, I was on fire. And you can, I’m sure guess what their response was. “We’re not interested.” “We already have a psychiatrist.” And so, that was the moment I realized I wasn’t just going to be a therapist because they’re missing something.

And I think the hard thing is like, any healing field requires your whole heart to learn it. So if you’re going to be a great therapist, no matter what you choose to do, whether it’s cognitive behavioral therapy, or EMDR, or somatic experience or psychoanalysis, it’s a lifetime of study to be like a healer in that field. So I realized like, “Oh, I want to do that, and I want to follow this path that I actually didn’t understand.” Like The Mood Cure was a first step. And so, that was like, “Oh.” I’d learned at that point in my life that when there are signs in the road, you read them and you said, “This is an important moment, this is like the fork in the road.” “And, what do I do with this?” And, I knew I had to walk down.

This was in 2000 maybe. And my friends and colleagues were like, “Dude, what the fuck are you doing?” “You just earned this doctrine that took you eight years, why are you doing this?” And the only answer I had was, “It feels like I have to, I have to do this.” And so, that’s sort of what I did and I hadn’t been a science person. Like there was, it didn’t add up that this was the direction. The poet is going down this road and I hadn’t realized what was ahead. I hadn’t realized like, “Oh, you’re going to be studying a textbook of biochemistry at some point in the next couple years.” So, I just followed. And my road has been very haphazard and I’ve just followed whatever’s been in front of me that’s been interesting, that’s sort of what I’ve done. And whether that’s something learning therapeutically, yoga, functional medicine, nutrition. And so, it makes me very well versed and probably not the best at any one of these areas, because they’re all like multiple lifetimes of study, as you know.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. I can relate to a lot of what you just shared, because it was, the healer, your Jewish Buddhist, mystic energy wizard. I’ve come across a couple people like that the last several years, that have found me at points where I really needed that from a healing perspective, and being in a lot of pain and suffering and opened my eyes to what is, in a lot of ways that I didn’t see, both in myself and in the world and what exists. And you mentioned like, he talked about energy and I’ve been introduced to that kind of work the last few years. And when I first witnessed someone who was really skilled with that, I thought like, “This is nonsense, this can’t be a thing.” And then I ended up going through a two year training, because of that person in the same stuff that he was showing.

So it’s, I can relate to that. And then also, I love how you bring up that any one of these things could easily be a lifetime of study. And that I feel the same way that, I started in… I have a master’s in exercise physiology, so I started as a trainer, kind of like I was working with athletes. Didn’t enjoy that at all, started helping out some non-athletes who had back surgery and weren’t recovering properly. I enjoyed that a lot more, because it was helping someone regain their function and be able to live their lives. And then from there, I started to learn these little things about how nutrition might play a role in some of the goals that these people I was working with had and whatever, and that opened this rabbit hole of like, “Why isn’t anybody talking about this?”

Why doesn’t everyone do this, because it’ll make this work better?” So like, “Why isn’t this…” And then, I butted heads with people at the places I was working, and then I went from fitness to nutrition, to a more holistic approach when I found the Chek Institute and Paul Chek, who’s like a holistic on the fitness side. And then went to FDN, which I think is where I met you in the functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner forum, which was more lab testing and deeper functional medicine stuff. And so, when I’ve been able to step back and look at it, and then the last few years, I went through my own crisis, my own mental health crisis. And I ended up bouncing from therapist to counselor, to different types of therapy and nothing was working. And, I felt disillusioned. And then I found a couple people, and a couple communities and programs that were what I needed.

And then, I dove right in immediately to two and a half really solid years of study into that and was like, “Oh, well, this is the thing.” So when I was able to step back and look at it, what I was doing was going to increasing levels of depth from fitness’s, and I don’t want to disparage anything, I love… There’s amazing fitness trainers out there who do incredible work with people. But to me, fitness was a superficial level of depth, nutrition was a little bit further down, the functional medicine was a little bit further down than that. And then I got to the energy, to the emotions, to the trauma, to the nervous system stuff.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

I think that’s a… Can I say something about that?

Michael Roesslein:

Sure.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

This idea. So you had this development through the levels that you became open to. It’s like the expression, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.”

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. I would’ve turned away from the deeper levels at the beginning, if you’d put it in front of me, I’d have been like, “No way, that’s not for me.”

Dr. Josh Friedman:

And probably, without a healing crisis, you wouldn’t have like-

Michael Roesslein:

Absolutely.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Almost no one seeks out some of these things. And most people, my wife is a yoga teacher, that’s the… She works in the Dean Ornish program. She’s the director of stress management for his program for reversing heart disease. And she lived with Swami Rama, who’s a guru. And he would do Shakti Pad, which is he could open the universe to you by touching you. And he would say, “You all say you want enlightenment, but none of you actually really want enlightenment.” “You don’t want…” Like, “If I gave you enlightenment, you would run away and never come back.” But-

Michael Roesslein:

For sure.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

… one thing I think is interesting, another thing about what you said, this idea is that people suffer at different levels and are ready for healing at different levels. And if you address, if you understand the map, like in yoga, they talk about the koshas. They talk about the energy, the different bodies. Each body has a different tool. So if someone has a problem with like their structural alignment or their muscles, like helping them with an Ayahuasca journey may or may not be the right thing. It might be. It might be that this is stored energy from past trauma or it might not be. And so, one thing I’ve focused on, I think is to try to understand levels and try to understand one openness that people have. But two, what is it that someone needs?

If someone’s mood has something to do with the gut brain access, that’s going to be a different intervention, than if someone has a discreet traumatic event, or if someone has complex PTSD in a lifetime of neglect from, or abuse as a child. And so, it’s interesting, because there are lots of healers who are very skilled at these different levels. And I think one thing that happens is people become evangelical about the transformative experience that they had. So, if you’ve done [inaudible 00:17:45].

Michael Roesslein:

At every level too.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

No, no, at every level-

Michael Roesslein:

It happens with fitness trainers, who got like shredded off one kind of workout program. It happens to nutritionists-

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Exactly.

Michael Roesslein:

… who lost 80 pounds eating a ketogenic diet. It happens to the functional medicine doctor, [crosstalk 00:17:59] who reversed cancer in one person with this diet, like it’s… Yes.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

The first client I ever saw was this really angry man and he-

Michael Roesslein:

That’s funny.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

… would just hate… He hated on me. He just hated on me. And I went to my therapist, and told him what I was doing and how I was working. And he said, this is after, this is my therapist, the one I was talking about, my Buddhist mystic psychoanalyst. After he said, he said, “Do you know why this relationship is failing?” “You know why he’s so angry at you?” And I said, “Because I’m a bad therapist because I’m just starting.” And he said, “No, he said, you’re treating him like I treat you.” And I treat you, because you’re, you. You have to figure out who he is, so you can figure out how to treat him. And so, that’s like the same… It’s like the same kernel of truth. And so sometimes. I will see people and I won’t be the… I can identify what I think they need, and I won’t be the person that can do it because it’s too deep for me or it’s too complicated.

Like, I can identify mold illness or at least the likelihood of mold illness, microtoxin stuff, but I’m not going to be that guy. Because it’s just like, and I’m very much about knowing what I know, what’s my realm of competence and knowing what I don’t know, and knowing who knows what I don’t know. And it’s like Warren Buffets major [inaudible 00:19:38] investing, only invest in what you understand. And I think that’s a really, really important bit of advice, is to invest… Is to work with what you understand and gradually expand your scope of practice humbly. Because it’s a very… The human experience is complicated, and we should be humble to it and we should be listening more than we speak in some ways. So, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

I agree. And I can relate to your kind of, I don’t remember how you phrased it, but Jack of all trades, master of none specifically type of thing. Because I feel the same way, like I have the masters and the fitness and exercise science, I’ve done some functional medicine and nutrition training. I’ve dabbled in trauma work, and energy, and somatic therapy, and meditation and spirituality and I feel the same, that I can kind of identify where people are at. Because I love how you mentioned, does somebody have mood issues because their guts messed up or do they have mood issues from complex trauma being raised by an abuser. While that person could likely have also gut issues.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

That’s right.

Michael Roesslein:

If you only-

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Just remember-

Michael Roesslein:

… approach the gut issues, you’re not going to touch the main root cause. And I feel like having this, if there’s a 10 level of depth on all of those things and I’ve gone to about three on about eight of them, I feel like it enables me to kind of identify where somebody is a little and what… Some of it, I feel more confident that I can help them than others. And then, but I’m starting to, like building communities and networks is kind of my jam, so I’m starting to be able to be like, “Okay, you’re here, that person is awesome with people who are here.” “So, why don’t you talk to them.” And I can-

Dr. Josh Friedman:

You and I are similar.

Michael Roesslein:

… see that being more my role. Yeah.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

You and I are… Like, I feel like I’m an air traffic controller some.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Because some of it’s just too complex, I love you used mold illness. When mold illness became the thing that’s wrong with everyone and I’ll put that in quotes, but like five years ago or so-

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Yeah, no, I remember.

Michael Roesslein:

… switched from like a fringe thing to like, holy, everyone has mold. I have a few friends and colleagues who are extraordinarily well versed with mold illness. They’ve done all the trainings. They’ve done all the things, they know all the biochemistry, they know all the labs to run. They know all the… My wife sees one of them as her doctor, because we thought mold factored into her autoimmunity. And I realized really quickly when I started to try to learn mold illness, that it’s over my head. That I’m never going to be a mold specialist, I’m never going to be the biochemistry freak that can… Look, and I mean freak in an endearing way. I’m not-

Dr. Josh Friedman:

No, no. I know exactly.

Michael Roesslein:

I can’t look at an 800 page biochemistry book and be like, “Oh this is awesome, I totally understand this.”

Dr. Josh Friedman:

I’ve been the guy who has to know everything. I have to know everything. I’m not willing to be a… I struggle with being a beginner, so I will study, and study and study. And finally like, my wife helped me. Like 15 years ago when she was like, “Dude, there’s no way you can learn more sitting on the sidelines, you have to go in humbly.” And I recently been attracted to, you probably may have interviewed him, Dan Kalish. And, he’s really interesting, very, very experienced guy who has studied with the masters. But the thing I like about him is he understands his lane, he’s very basic. I mean, it’s deeper than 90% of clinicians, but he’s incredibly competent in what he does, but he’s like, “Yeah, I don’t deal with SIBO, and I don’t deal with mold illness and I don’t deal with lime.” And I get 85% of the people better that I see and when they don’t, I know who to send them to. Dr. [inaudible 00:23:53], I can send to, like I know [inaudible 00:23:55]. And to me like,

Michael Roesslein:

And Dr. Kalish has been the master of that lane for 15 or 20 years now. I mean, he was…

Dr. Josh Friedman:

At least-

Michael Roesslein:

He was a first functional medicine doctor I ever heard talking on interviews and podcasts. And when I first got interested in the subject, I wanted to be Dan Kalish when I grew up, like I wanted to…

Dr. Josh Friedman:

I love that he doesn’t take [inaudible 00:24:17] seriously. He’s fine.

Michael Roesslein:

No.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

But I do-

Michael Roesslein:

He meditates side note.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Oh, I know.

Michael Roesslein:

I interviewed him, he told me he meditates like three or four hours a day. And he’s really into like really deep spirituality stuff, he’s in fascinating. If anybody out there who doesn’t know who Dan Kalish is, go look him up.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

When his father died, he went and lived in a monastery for two years. But I guess the reason I’m bringing him up is for me, I can be helpful and not be Dr. Chafer and not be a doctor who knows. Who’s like, because I can’t be that person. I don’t have the head for it, but it doesn’t mean I can’t be helpful. And I’m trying to bring, and the truth is, many people get really better with very simple things. I do think relatedness, sitting with someone and being present, loving them up, helping them see their blind spots, creating like my psycho… My first love, my first training is in psychoanalysis. And psychoanalysis is, it’s all about studying presence, human presence, and the healing power of a combination of human presence with new information. They would say interpretation and many people like cast psychoanalysis off today as being like, so dated with all these modern, very quick therapies, EMDR, brain spotting, psychedelic assisted therapies, like all these amazing tools.

But really when it comes down to it, to me, this idea of being present with another person, being seen, being understood is something that we like overlook often. Like we overlook the healing power of the diet. Like to me, there’s all these really, these psychoanalysts that look at the study mother, parent child interactions, they’re called like the psychoanalytic infant baby Watchers. And they put two cameras up and they can… One’s on the mom, one’s on the baby and they look at a moment to moment, to moment. In five minutes of watching a video of [inaudible 00:26:47], they can predict mental diagnosable, mental health issues, including depression, anxiety at six months of age. So, that to me is just fascinating. So at five minutes, a skilled observer can predict it, so you’re talking about preverbal attachments.

You’re talking about preverbal attunement. You’re not mostly, I mean, I’m sure there’s, in certain cases like grave trauma, but in many cases, you’re talking about the way that we pay attention to each other. And to me, that’s fucking fascinating. So, I go back-

Michael Roesslein:

[inaudible 00:27:29] really…

Dr. Josh Friedman:

I do go back to my roots and I’m all about adding on, like learning new things that are helpful. And I’m impulsive, and I’ve stepped into lots of things and spent lots of monies on things, like I’ve learned two forms of…

Michael Roesslein:

I can relate to that too.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

I’ve I’ve studied two forms of neurofeedback that were 15 grand each for machines. And what did I learn? I learned about different imbalances the brain can have. Do I want to be the person that’s connecting people to a machine to help their brain balance? No, because that’s a lifetime of study. So the thing I’m realizing now, it’s like, oh, the things that are interesting me, how do I stick my toe enough to learn about them, so that they’re not my field exactly, but I understand the fields that are adjacent to my field. So I understand the dialectic of neurofeedback, which is great. I love that. I was bad at doing neurofeedback, because it requires so much and I didn’t have the bandwidth to do that, and do FDN at the same time and be doing yoga teacher training.

It’s like, oh, I’m two ADD for that. And I’m not going to… And I can’t remember if it was, like this idea that how do you honor who you are at your core? Oh, I’m impulsive and not be ashamed about that. I’m going to move, I’m impressionable. I’m going to like move quickly towards something. And that’s my best and my worst trait, because I’m going to find myself in amazing places. And I might find myself in costly, potentially dangerous places. And as I’ve got wiser-

Michael Roesslein:

I feel like I’m listen to myself talk, right?

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Yeah. And I think we’re pretty similar. And as I’ve gotten wiser and I have developed more of a witness, I can play it all out in my head. I can say, “Oh, I want to go do this and do [Gay-Bomonte 00:29:35] two year program, but that’s not my path. My path is to sit here. And if it comes back to me, maybe I’ll think about it again. But so, it is interesting to think about your path and your dharma, and how you choose what you do and how you add on. And my path super haphazard, my healing path is super haphazard. My professional path, super haphazard.

And at its core is, oh, I’m adding on the onion, I’m not like peeling the onion. I’m just like, “Oh, that’s cool.” “How does that fit?” And I think that’s the place I’ve found that I can be that person, I will never be… I’m not going to be the most expert, I’m going to be me. I’m going to try to be me, and I’m going to show up with love and honesty in people’s experiences to try to be helpful in moving their case along, moving their situation along, that’s my lane.

Michael Roesslein:

So, thank you for sharing all of that. And I really kind of do feel like I’m having a conversation with my own witness, but I found myself in a lot of, oops, spur of the moment, expensive decision. I signed up [fortraining 00:31:01] after watching… I attended a weekend workshop he held on trauma stuff and I watched him work with some people live on the thing. And I was like, “Holy shit, that’s really cool.” And then at the end they were like, “Oh, he has a practitioner training,” da da, da, da, da. And by the end of the day, I was talking to Mira about like, “I think I’m going to sign up for this program.” And she’s like, “You’re already in the luminous program, and you’re building [Anora 00:31:27] and you run Rebel Health Tribe.” And [crosstalk 00:31:30] I was like, “Yeah, but I need that, I need to do that.” And then [crosstalk 00:31:34] half way through, I was like, “I could have done this after I was done with…”

Dr. Josh Friedman:

It sounds like me and my wife, she’s like, “Okay, you want to do you want to do this now?”

Michael Roesslein:

Says it out loud as if I don’t realize what I’m doing.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Yeah. You want to do that and it costs how much, and I know you have the money, but are you sure you want to do this? And it’s different than my father, who’s like, “What the fuck are you doing?” Like, is this going to make you more money? And it never makes me more money in [inaudible 00:32:06], it just makes me feel more fulfilled.

Michael Roesslein:

No. Yeah. And it’s fun. So I want to talk before we go, I just want to, because we haven’t talked much about the biochemistry end of things. And we’re talking about paths to get here, but the biochemistry side of things, we mentioned that if somebody has gut issues, or you mentioned the great examples of neurotransmitters for the people with anorexia. Anorexia is traditionally extremely hard to treat, both from the psychology and mental health side. And from when you don’t eat, you’re going to find yourself in a world of health problems too. But then I have a friend who does nutrition work and lifestyle coaching for recovering addicts. And they often find very similar, really, really hardcore deficiencies, and some essential vitamins and nutrients and things like that. And she firmly believes that the, I don’t want to use ignorance here in like an insulting way, but the ignorance in the addiction treatment world around nutrient deficiencies, and vitamin deficiencies, and neurotransmitters and these biochemical things contributes very heavily to the very high failure rate of most of these treatment programs.

Where it’s like, all right, well, we’re going to take somebody who’s addicted to X, which depletes X, Y, Z, and then we’re going to stick them in this place for 30 days. Keep them away from the thing they’re addicted to, try to tell them how they don’t need it and try to help them not want it, whatever. But, they’re self-medicating with that. And so, if you don’t address any of that [inaudible 00:33:50]-

Dr. Josh Friedman:

I have a story about this.

Michael Roesslein:

Sure.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

I have a friend, this older couple named David and Marlene Miller, and they are responsible with Dr. Gorski for creating what’s called the relapse prevention movement in addiction treatment. His abstinence,  he was an alcoholic. David, his abstinence was very, very difficult. They started seeking out answers and got hooked up with Julia Ross, and some other people and figured out that he had a slew of underlying nutritional deficiencies that were leading to his abstinence issues with irritability and anger and depression. He got on a set of amino acids to raise dopamine, to raise a serotonin, he got on some B vitamins, including B1, which is notoriously deficient in alcoholics. His case, and his very difficult multiple decade abstinence problems and relapsing problems ended. They started writing a lot of books.

They published many millions of books on the subject of amino acids. He happened to have ADD too, ADD and alcoholism. They teamed up with a guy named Ken Blum. Ken Blum is the father of, the bench researcher that did all the work on amino acid therapies. And after all these years of trying to educate people, they got the word out to a small group of people, dedicated people. They got a meeting at Hazelden, one of the premier treatment centers in Minnesota. And they wanted to start to introduce these tools to help with the relapse rates amongst all substance users, start with alcohol, which I think is like 50%, going up to things like meth, which is 95% relapse rate, like quite awful after treatment.

Michael Roesslein:

Wow.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

They went to Betty Ford, they went to all the major treatment centers. These are people who created relapse prevention, who have the cred, who have the degrees, who have written millions of books and no one would meet with them. So that’s profound, insulting, ignorance, because it’s information. And, it’s not… It’s saying, “Yeah, let’s do this and let’s address these other layers, let’s fix the gut.” And there’s amazing work, Joan Matthews Larson has a clinic called the Health Recovery Center, where she’s using Dr. Walsh’s principles in the treatment center in Minneapolis and she’s been doing it for 40 years. 40 years, so it’s like the, all of this stuff exists. It’s just like, it doesn’t make it into conventional care. And that’s sort of like something I’m very, very interested in, is how owned mental health and substance abuse is by the pharmaceutical industry and how close-minded therapists are.

Michael Roesslein:

Well, both sides are owned by the pharmaceutical industry at this point, because the medical side is too.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Right and it’s very upsetting to see what’s happening at the ground level. This idea, we were talking about talking points, we sort of think, ” had a good, interesting conversation,” but one thing we-

Michael Roesslein:

That’s okay.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

… talked about before, was this idea of treatment resistant, mental health conditions. And so, what does that mean? What does treatment resistant mean? It means the tools that we have, psychotropic medications aren’t working. It means you’ve been tried on three or four meds, you haven’t responded, but no one has actually dug any deeper than medication. There’s been no basic lab work, not even functional lab work, not even gut testing, and hormone testing and hair mineral analysis, but there’s been no basic lab work to look at lab core values that the literature showed definitively are connected to mental health issues, B12, vitamin D, thyroid, iron levels, just a basic, CRP for inflammation, just some of the really basic stuff. It’s incredibly rare for a psychiatrist who happens to be a medically trained doctor, all prescribers are medically trained and it’s incredibly rare for them to even look at the basics of body kinds of conditions, of biochemical kinds of conditions. And we know it can be way more complicated than that, but very few people are even looking at the basics.

Michael Roesslein:

Oh yeah, thanks for sharing all that. I know that we’ve been using some terms like amino acid therapies and other types of things that people might not be familiar with, but it’s basically, there’s certain amino acids that correlate with the production of certain neurotransmitters. They’re building blocks or neurotransmitters. And if you can identify where somebody may be deficient or struggling with neurotransmitters, introducing those amino acids can boost neurotransmitter production, so it’s that. And then you mentioned a bunch of vitamins, and markers and things there. Because I was going to ask like, what are some steps people can do? And you mentioned protein, because amino acids are building blocks of protein. So people that are anorexic aren’t taking in protein, and then they’re not digesting the protein they are eating. So then, they don’t have amino acids and they don’t have neurotransmitters. And no amount of therapy-

Dr. Josh Friedman:

That’s right.

Michael Roesslein:

… can out therapy a complete deficiency in neurotransmitters, and someone’s going to feel mentally terrible, if they’re not producing neurotransmitters, if they don’t have them. So.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

And I think that, so one of the like really basic things that I’ve seen be incredibly successful is get online and find like a nutritional calculator. So like MyFitnessPal or just find like a list of protein grams for common foods and just start counting how much protein you’re having in an average day. And in my experience, many people are pretty protein malnourished. And a huge number of people feel much better if they start gradually raising the amount of protein they’re consuming at increments throughout the day, to between 80 and a 100 grams a day. Like, just that one simple step can be life altering. I’ve given a lot of public talks, where I like say that fact and every couple of months I get an email from someone who said, “Hey, I was vegetarian, I heard what you said about protein, I didn’t make any changes, I didn’t start eating meat, but I increased my protein and this low level depression I was feeling went away.”

So, that’s like an incredible thing one can do. The other thing, I think that’s incredibly important is this idea of blood sugar, like fluctuating blood sugar, being related to mental health conditions. Certainly to alcoholism, but to all mental health conditions. So, where blood sugar goes up, and then down and up, and then down. And one other thing that I found incredibly helpful is starting to move your diet towards a lower glycemic diet. So like looking at, people can Google a list of high glycemic and low glycemic foods. High glycemic food, of course, the highest glycemic food, this is the glycemic index is the propensity of a food to raise blood sugar.

And a hundred percent glycemic index is table sugar and all carbohydrates. So moving, like eating natural carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and eating at regular increments can make huge difference in people’s moods. Like to me, that’s like such a very simple thing and to get like more specific guidance on that. And I have some blogs on my website, but if someone wanted a really good introduction, two books, I would say like they’re really good basic books, one we mentioned. It’s The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. And the second one is the Antianxiety Food Solution by Trudy Scott. And these don’t get into the complexity, they get into a little bit about functional testing, but it’s mostly about amino acids, which are the building blocks, the protein building blocks of the mood chemistry of the brain.

It’s a food and what’s a good healing, mental health diet. And then it looks at some of the basic biochemical issues that can be related to mood issues, like adrenal function, hormone function, thyroid, gut function, and how to identify issues and what are some simple steps to take. And then if you wanted to dig deeper, how one could work with a practitioner to identify specific triggers of symptoms in your case. But I think for someone that’s novice, that’s a really good place to start. I actually have… I’ll get [inaudible 00:44:06]-

Michael Roesslein:

I can link a bunch of that in show notes too. Yeah.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

This is the the Antianxiety Food Solution.

Michael Roesslein:

I know Trudy, I met her in San Diego in an event years ago and we stayed in touch. I’m actually probably going to have her on the podcast soon.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

She’s great. I mean, she’s awesome.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

And actually, Trudy is another person to me, I know her real well, who knows her lane and has helped millions and millions of people by focusing on the basics. So most of her, she writes weekly blogs, hosts a really cool Facebook group. And almost everything she does is the very basics with amino acid, with diet, with blood sugar. She talks about more complex things sometimes. She talks about how do you do a pathogen eradication program, but she doesn’t get into that. She’s focusing on the basics mostly. And her-

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. She’s great.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Yeah. She’s awesome.

Michael Roesslein:

She’s great. Yeah. And we actually have, I don’t know when this is going to air, so it might even be published by then, but we have my friend I referenced earlier, who focuses on nutrition for recovering addicts. She’s actually writing a series of blog posts for us on amino acids and neurotransmitters going-

Dr. Josh Friedman:

What’s her name?

Michael Roesslein:

Her name’s Jennifer Bruce.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Or Jen Bruce.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Cool.

Michael Roesslein:

She’s been through Julia Ross’s training, she’s been through a couple other trainings. We’re going to have posts on each neurotransmitter and the different amino acids, as well as blood sugar and neurotransmitters, gut health and neurotransmitters, and then how it all kind of links together. I think she’s writing about [inaudible 00:45:49] stress.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Excellent. So, that-

Michael Roesslein:

So, this is a topic that I just… It’s made a world of difference for me. We mentioned Dan Kalish earlier. He was part of one of our masterclass events here at Rebel Health Tribe and he gave a presentation on dopamine for our brain and neuro master class. And, I didn’t know… And I’ve read those books and I never really self-identified, until I listened to Dr. Kalish for an hour talk about dopamine, and dopamine deficiency and dopamine deficiency and alcohol.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Yeah. Makes sense.

Michael Roesslein:

That I have significant issues with dopamine, that alcohol has inverse effects a lot of times for people with dopamine, instead of getting tired and drowsy and whatever, the more alcohol somebody has, they’re like raring and ready to go. And they feel really great and all this and I’ve always had an inverse reaction to… I’ve always [crosstalk 00:46:42], when everybody else is getting tired, I was like, “Cool, where are we going next?” “What are we doing now?” Like, I didn’t have that. And he kept bringing up all these different signs and symptoms of low dopamine. And I was like, “Man, I never knew this.” And so, then I started to… I took some, I used the DopaBoost from Designs for Health, and I tried a couple other things and I immediately felt a shift in my… I don’t drink really anymore, so that wasn’t noticeable, but just in like cravings and procrastination. And my reward system is always been broken, like my [inaudible 00:47:21]-

Dr. Josh Friedman:

There’s a great… So Ken Blum, we referencing the father of [inaudible 00:47:26] therapy. He created a term, it’s called reward deficiency syndrome. Like in the literature, he’s done a ton of research. 20% of the population can’t get natural rewards in life, because of low dopamine. He’s created this beautiful, really interesting supplement that, in my experience, sort of capitalizes on the complexity of dopamine production. It’s called Synaptogenix. And it’s really, I’ve seen it be incredibly life-altering in people, especially people-

Michael Roesslein:

Oh, I got to get ahold of that.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

… with intense symptoms, so folks that are sober. But he would say in his research that, “Three quarters of mental health issues, non psychologically rooted, are based in this idea of your brain not providing the rewards intrinsically.” So he would relate that to all substance abuse disorders, all behavioral disorders, so all acting out disorders, certainly ADHD.

Michael Roesslein:

Because you’re chasing a thing that does give you the thing that your brain isn’t making [inaudible 00:48:44].

Dr. Josh Friedman:

The overactivity in the world is to stimulate the appropriate activity of your brain. So it’s not that ADHD kids brain move a million times, it’s that their brains are too sluggish and that they’re moving. It’s like, autistic kids do this too, they’re moving to create an experience. They’re like engaged in a process and it’s all self-medication. It’s all people trying to-

Michael Roesslein:

I can relate.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

… regulate their brains. And so, people will do all kinds of things that one would view as crazy and insane to feel okay in their brains. And…

Michael Roesslein:

Jumped off. I spent three years jumping off airplanes. I’ve boxed, I’ve been in martial arts, I’ve got tattoos to feel alive.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

And it’s easy to pathologize that. So a psychoanalyst would have a dream about masochism, right?

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

That you’re participating in sadomasochistic relationship. And that’s like, it’s all particle and wave, it’s all quantum shit. It’s like, if you shift over here and see it through a reward deficiency syndrome lens, you’re like, “Whoa, that changes so much in how you understand it.” And it actually makes, and it could theoretically be both, anything can be two things at the same time, but really, it’s probably… What’s it, it’s called [Zokums Razor 00:50:13], is that what it’s called. The simplest, most elegant understanding of an issue is probably the right one. But back to this idea of having multiple lenses to know when that’s the right lens, the reward deficiency lens is the right one, when a more analytic or a birth trauma might be the right lens. And it’s not good to be wed to any one map or one lens, because there is a truth. And if you hold the map to be true, then everything has to be seen through that one lens. So this reward deficiency piece is quite interesting, I think. And [inaudible 00:50:54] brilliant.

Michael Roesslein:

I will be looking that up.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Brilliant. Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

All right. Well, I think we’re about out of time. I want to let people know where they can find you. You have moodhealing.com, that’s one of your websites. You have a functional medicine, telehealth business. Is that…

Dr. Josh Friedman:

And that is, that’s the moodhealing.com. Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

And then, I have a local psychotherapy practice where I live, that is only for people… It’s because I’m… [inaudible 00:51:26] state of Nebraska.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Licensed in Nebraska.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

… live in the state of Nebraska, so.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay. So moodhealing.com is where they can find out about the distance work that you do, that you can work virtually and that involves more of the functional medicine lens. So if you’ve been struggling with the mental health side of life and you haven’t explored how nutrition and amino acids and functional medicine, and that might be able to help, that’s one person, I think that’d be great to check out your site. And then also for people who have been struggling with chronic disease and have never explored the mental health side of things, because there’s a lot of gaslighting that goes on in the medical industry of like, “Oh, it’s all in your head.” So then people get adverse to the idea that anything like mental or emotional could have to do with their physical symptoms, because it feels… I feel like people get gaslighted like that, so then they get defensive around that.

“And it’s not all in my head and they told me…” No, we’re not saying it’s all in your head. I just mean there are components to physical disease that are psycho-spiritual, that are trauma, that are emotional, that are all of this. And so, if you’re dealing with some stubborn physical health issues and haven’t explored the other side of things, I think that’d be another good person to go check out, Josh’s work.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Yeah. And, I’ve been digging into The Gupta Program, I’m sure you’re aware of it. This idea-

Michael Roesslein:

It’s similar to DNRS, it’s a neuro retraining program.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

It’s the other kind of… It’s the idea of… And he described it real well, the perpetuation of chronic disease having to do, or having in part to do with the psychological obsession that one has about the disease that keeps the body in a fight flight response. I think it’s quite ingenious. I’ve been going through his program and finding it uber helpful. I think he’s great. I think he’s a great healer and Andy Hopper as well, with the dynamic neuro retraining stuff. And, I would be…

Michael Roesslein:

Okay, cool.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

I would be a good person to chat with about doing some functional testing, and also about like making sense of a map to sort of move through what the next steps of healing might be.

Michael Roesslein:

Brilliant. Well, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Oh, me too.

Michael Roesslein:

I think there’s a lot more parallels between your journey and mine than I realized there were. And it actually kind of helped me feel a little bit better about my shiny object syndrome, when it comes to like learning some of these things I just get so… Right away, I’m like, “Enamored, I’m going to learn this, and I’m going to learn this.” But now that I’m able to kind of step back and see, it really does allow me to see a lot more of the map.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

And, that wide view is just as valuable as having a really deep view in one narrow area. And now, I kind of know the people who have the narrow deep view and be like, “Cool, here you go for this, is this person and this.” So it’s good to hear another person that has the similar tendencies to go wide and learn all the cool things.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

And I think, sometimes we go deep too soon with things in terms of like not everything is deep. Or not everything has to be deep. And in some ways, having a way of moving gradually towards depth, I think is really important. I think deep and intense sometimes scares people off. Because we’re really like people are afraid. People are, I’m afraid. Everyone is trying to avoid pain. And most of the people that come to see people like us, have been through an awful lot. They’ve suffered a lot. They’ve been deeply disappointed in their lives. And certainly almost all of them, I would think have been deeply disappointed by people that we’re supposed to help them in a professional role. And so, humbleness to me is really important. Respect. What are people, meeting people where they’re at. But I do think this has been lovely. And I’m so impressed by you.

Michael Roesslein:

Thanks Josh.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

And how you’re using the tools to get the word out is amazing.

Michael Roesslein:

Superpowers of ADD.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

No, I think that’s right. It is. And there are superpowers to everything. There’s the shadow and the light and there’s the… It is, it’s the superpower to ADD. And it’s a beautiful [inaudible 00:56:20].

Michael Roesslein:

You lovingly mentioned ADD about yourself earlier. I’ve started to do that. And it shifted my whole perspective of myself and of ADD and of all of it. When I realize that, “Yes, I do struggle with certain things.” If you put me down in front of some things that aren’t interesting to me that I can’t like dive into, I’m all over the place. I’m super distracted. I can’t pay attention. I can’t whatever. And there’s a lot of things I am interested in, and I can pay attention to all of them at the same time. So it’s…

Dr. Josh Friedman:

And knowing that about yourself allows you to capitalize. And I mean, you could either be stuck in the shame of all the times you failed, because you couldn’t list the things that you weren’t interested in. Like how beautiful that you’ve created a life where your multidimensional awareness and ability to hyper focus, has birthed like platforms that are going to help, I hope millions of people, if not, I mean, definitely thousands, tens of thousands. And you’re part of a movement, because you also can speak multiple languages with this stuff. You’re a, I think in, I forgot it’s the [Gallup poll 00:57:36] that you are woo, like someone who gets things going, and you’re like a joiner. You’re not competitive. You’re… You bring people together to create like vital change. And the world needs it now. And you have special, like you’re doing something special.

Michael Roesslein:

Thank you.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

So I appreciate being part that. It’s very meaningful to me, really.

Michael Roesslein:

Thank you very much. Learning to accept compliments is a new one too. So thank you.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

That’s good. Good stuff. So thank you.

Michael Roesslein:

And we’ll talk again.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Yeah, we’ll definitely talk again.

Michael Roesslein:

We’ll talk again soon, definitely. And one more time, is moodhealing.com, if you want go check out Dr. Freidman’s work. So thank you so much. I had a blast.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

It was great. It was awesome.

Michael Roesslein:

It was great to connect, and love to talk soon.

Dr. Josh Friedman:

Yep. Thank you.