Episode #02 – DR. G SPILLS THE GREEN TEA – cancer prevention, hormone imbalance & getting back to nature
- Published on: 13 January, 2020
- Last update: 13 January, 2020
THIS WEEK ON WHAT’S THE JUICE PODCAST:
I’m so excited to share this juicy interview with everyone’s favorite naturopathic doctor… the one, the only, Doctor G! I met Dr. Christian Gonzalez through Instagram of course, because mama always told me not to talk to strangers on the street. But on the Internet? I tell strangers my deepest secrets and they’ve become some of my very best friends. 😂
There’s so much to cover in this episode. Thank goodness we started off with THE STRESS BIBLE as our debut (blog post here), because now you’ll be able to flow through our conversation about melatonin and cancer seamlessly knowing how it triggers ‘autophagy’ – the cleanup of cancer cells – while we sleep. You see, Dr. G specializes in cancer, including and perhaps most importantly cancer prevention. He’s going to talk to us about how low doses of melatonin in supplement form will help us get to sleep… but HIGH doses (20mg+) are what he gives to his breast cancer patients. High doses (dispensed by a trained practitioner of course) help turn the immune response back up in his patients to where their immune systems can now recognize/see (and thus, fight) abnormal cancer cells.
(QUICK DISCLAIMER FROM ME since many of you asked about supplementing after Episode 1 – When you’re using melatonin as a supplement for sleep support only, not cancer support, my philosophy is to only use it as a last resort when the other interventions mentioned in Episode 1 (bright early morning sunlight, adaptogens/herbs, blue light blockers, etc) just won’t do the trick. Ideally, you want to get your body to produce your OWN melatonin in abundance. The lifestyle tips and herbs we mentioned are what will help to get your endogenous production back up. Remember that when you give your body the right tools and habits, it knows what to do, and that natural melatonin production in the brain each night is what nature designed as one of our many built-in cancer prevention mechanisms. Dr. G gives high doses as a supplement to cancer patients because at that point HPA dysregulation has often been present for a very long time and we’re no longer in the realm of prevention, we have to pull out the big guns. I believe there’s a time and place for everything (lifestyle interventions, diet, gentle herbs, stronger supplements/nutraceuticals, and then pharmaceuticals). You have to know what you’re dealing with and choose wisely. If you don’t have to go with the big guns yet, start with the lowest hanging fruit – the power of your habits and gentle remedies that guide the body rather than push it.
Relying on melatonin for too long just to get to sleep (rather than using it therapeutically for cancer) can actually dampen your own production because of a negative feedback loop similar to what we learned about the HPA axis. When you’re getting an external source of it, your brain takes in that information and compensates by decreasing your internal source over time. Always go for herbs first because they’re not habit-forming like melatonin can be; instead they help your nervous system to relax so that you can feel as tired as you truly are.
Even something like chamomile tea can be insanely powerful, especially for a “pitta” – Type A, workaholic – person. (You can find out if you’re a pitta here: What’s Your Mind/Body Type?)
Herbs are nature’s tools that we evolved with. This was stressed to me heavily at school, and while most supplement companies blend melatonin in with their herbal sleep formulas because it’s an instant fix, I chose NOT to put melatonin (a hormone) in my Sleep Juice formula. Sleep Juice is still pretty darn instant for some, but for others it may take a few days for your body to adjust because it doesn’t contain something as strong as a hormone. And of course, since we learned that adaptogens are HPA axis regulators, if your sleep issues are driven by stress and chronic fight-or-flight mode, utilizing adaptogens like my Adrenal Recovery Formula in the morning will help you to naturally feel more tired at night.
When working with someone who lists sleep as their number one complaint, I may have them on both Adrenal Recovery (daytime) and Sleep Juice (nighttime) to benefit from both herb classes – the adaptogens and the nervines. Peace Juice can be complimentary too if you find your cortisol is spiking during the day or you wake up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts. If you do have to resort to melatonin because nothing else will put you down, use it for just a few days at a time at an early bedtime (9pm) to start training your circadian rhythm. Then take the training wheels off and use your herbal toolbox (again, even the chamomile tea) to continue a 9pm nightly ritual with plenty of winding down and no blue light beforehand. Take a bath. Have hot tea. Give yourself a Gua Sha facial massage. Make it an actual routine that gives your brain a signal. A lot of it is about telling your brain “I am allowed to relax now” and teaching it with your habits. You can do this!)
ANYWAY… the best thing about this episode is that we cover MAJOR interventions for preventing cancer (especially hormonally-driven cancers) that are easy, inexpensive, and effective over the long term. Dr. G gives us his top 5 tips, including why green tea is so important for everyone to be consuming, always from a safe source of course (we both like Pique Tea).
(to read the full transcription of this episode, click HERE)
He also stressed to me that NOW is the time to care about your hormones, no matter how young you are. Women in their 20s (and men in their 20s when we think about prostate cancer) need to pay close attention to what exactly is disrupting their hormones early-on, because it’s never too early. We all need lifestyle interventions now, and they can be as simple as ditching plastic, incorporating specific foods at dinner time, and going for a daily walk. If you are a young woman with signs of estrogen dominance (which he goes over in our chat) it’s important to address it now and take these steps while prevention is so tangible.
What I love about Dr. G is that he’s a vegan who strongly believes in not eating animals—yet he’s willing to focus on the things we have in common rather than our differences. I eat more of a paleo-style diet after utilizing AIP this past year to pinpoint some of my unique food allergies, and we bond over the philosophies we can agree on and where the food industry needs to change. We get really juicy when talking about nutrition, and he even explains why cheese is so addictive. There’s a lot of hidden interest when it comes to the food we’re encouraged to eat by the powers that be, and his goal is to expose that through all the work he’s doing. We’re talking about some heavy topics in this episode, but we still tried to keep it light with our Leo banter!
Grab your matcha and let’s get to the JUICE.
First things First:
Q: Why do you need to “balance” your hormones? What does that even mean and what’s disrupting our hormones in the first place?
A: Well for women, a “hormone imbalance” (as evidenced by irregular cycles, cysts or extreme PMS) often means you’re ‘estrogen dominant’ (high estrogen in comparison to progesterone; this can be because your liver detox pathways aren’t optimized and you may need more cruciferous veggies and fiber to carry excess estrogen out of the body via the bowels).
For others, a “hormone imbalance” can involve both excess estrogen AND excess androgens, as seen in PCOS. This is where it gets more complex, so we’ll dive in with a future episode. For now, if you’re estrogen dominant, it’s important to make some diet/lifestyle changes early on because hormonally driven cancers like breast cancer and ovarian cancer are estrogen sensitive. This is something we need to start thinking about in our early 20s and into our 30s because that’s when prevention is most potent and we can get into a rhythm of habits that set us up for optimal health well into our 40s and 50s.
What are some signs of estrogen dominance?
1. Irregular periods
2. Cyclical hormonal acne
3. Uterine fibroids or cysts
4. Cystic breasts
Dr. G’s Top 5 Prevention Tips (expanded upon in the episode)
1. Green Tea (he explains how much)
2. Overnight fasting (13 hours minimum)
3. Control your cortisol (we talk about what this means, late night snacking can spike it)
4. Sleep in as close to a pitch black room as possible
5. Early morning sunlight exposure daily (open a window or get outside for 5-10mins to expose your eyes to the light; this jumpstarts a hormonal cascade that follows via the HPA axis)
So, What’s the Juice?
• Breast, Ovarian, and Prostate cancer are predominantly hormone-driven cancers. This means we need to be vigilant about all the hormone disruptors that we are exposed to on a daily basis through food, environment, pharmaceuticals, and stress. Filtering your tap water and drinking out of a reusable bottle is an excellent first step.
• Childhood cancer seems to be on the rise today and this could be due to pollution in our environment that wasn’t present 100 or even 50 years ago (studies are finding that we can be affected by the toxins that our grandparents, and even great-grandparents, were exposed to).
• Dioxin is one of the most dangerous chemicals we know of and it’s found in conventional (non-organic) bleached tampons and paper coffee cups. It has been linked to endometriosis and this is why it’s so important to choose your feminine care products wisely. Luckily, so many wonderful companies are creating safe alternatives like organic, unbleached tampons.
• Plastic acts as a “xenoestrogen” (‘false’ estrogen) which means that components found within plastic (even BPA-free) bind to our estrogen receptors and can exacerbate estrogen dominance. Dr. G says that even so, dairy is 100x worse for your hormones than BPA.
• Dairy is addictive and part of this is because it speaks to our emotional body as well via a bonding mechanism. If you have hormonal issues and you’re still consuming dairy, try cutting it out as your first intervention.
• Why does dairy affect us on an emotional level? Casomorphin is an opioid peptide (protein fragment) derived from the digestion of the milk protein casein. This means that on a very small scale, it binds to our opioid receptors similarly to something like morphine. Why is this? Well, it’s because cows need to bond with their babies, and they do that through their milk. That’s the way nature designed it, and it explains why ice cream and mac and cheese are some of our favorite comfort foods as a culture!
• Heavy metals can disrupt your hormones as well by acting as xenoestrogens or “metalloestrogens.” Lead in the tap water can also mimic estrogen and exacerbate an imbalance. A water filter such as a Berkey filter can be an excellent investment when you’re just starting out on a health journey and want something that will impact your entire household.
• A night-time insulin release (a late night sugar rush) can be carcinogenic to the body because it is going against our own natural rhythms. This blunts your melatonin release (you need this to be highest around 11-12 at night). Insulin that spikes too late in the evening can also create a cortisol spike and disrupt our sleep hygiene and autophagy.
More Quick Bites:
- Mercury: men seem to have more mercury in their bodies than women — even if exposure is the same — because women excrete mercury through birth and then breast milk. Your grandmother’s toxic load is passed on and affects future generations. We have the power to break the cycle. Dr. G recommends heavy metal testing and a daily infrared sauna practice at least one year before trying to get pregnant if at all possible.
- Deeper than a blood test: Get your hormones tested (blood/saliva/urine test) while you’re young, especially if you have signs of estrogen dominance. We like the Dutch Test as it will help you determine IF your estrogen is high, but also what detox pathways that estrogen is preferring. If you see that it’s going down a more dangerous pathway via the test, you can incorporate foods like broccoli sprouts to shift the ‘highway’ that it chooses.
- Factory Farms: REALLY important to stop supporting factory farms and giving them our money. It really does make a difference when you vote with your dollar. Dr. G abstains from animal products entirely, and I recommend visiting your local farmer’s market to find high quality grass-fed organic meats. Butcher Box and Thrive Market also have more affordable options in monthly boxes.
- Genetics: Cancer is only 5-10% genetic — meaning we have the power and we also must be vigilant about our exposures — what we eat, pollution and radiation, stress.
- Exercise: you have to do both aerobic and anaerobic to help balance your hormones. Physical exercise can reduce your risk of breast cancer by 35% — it’s one of the most preventative things you can do.
- Fasting: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — overnight fasting will help you take advantage of the autophagy process. It’s important to go at least 13 hours between your final bite of dinner and your first bite of breakfast in the AM. Having your last meal/snack @ 7pm and your first meal @ 8am is easy for most people to stick to.
- Ambient light: prevents deep sleep and therefore optimal melatonin release (covered this in Episode 1). Melatonin is released from the pineal gland. It helps make us tired at night and it scavenges cancer cells and activates the immune system. High dose (20mg+) becomes anticancer.
- Vitamin D: we evolved with the sun so we’ve gotta make sure we’re out in the sun more even when it’s chilly out. Practice safe sun exposure when the UV index is high (15-20 mins at peak) but don’t fear sunlight altogether. A Vitamin D supplement is not exactly the same.
- Grounding has an impact on your parasympathetic system within seconds. Touch your bare feet to the grass whenever possible!
- There is intelligence within the plants we eat. Top anti-cancer foods and herbs are ginger, garlic, skullcap, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage for supporting liver detoxification of more carcinogenic form of estrogen.
- Estrogen and antidepressants have been found in our tap water (because people flush their pharmaceuticals including estrogen-based birth control pills down the toilet). Again, we love a good water filter.
- Stress will affect your telomeres (DNA) and aging more than obesity and smoking will. In cancer, the telomeres are shorter. Plants sustain your telomeres — different colors fruits and vegetables are KEY. Rotate purples, reds, greens, yellows, etc.
- Be a master of your own body. Do self breast-exams and yearly thermography tests. Watch a YouTube tutorial on how to do a breast exam but make sure it’s a legitimate medical exam tutorial. Keep track of lumps and bumps month after month. Most will go away on their own but Dr. G tells us what to look for and when to see your doctor.
- There is an energetic/emotional component to cancer just like there is with all disease. Dr. G says that (1) finding a sense of purpose and (2) forgiveness are key players in the big picture of healing.
A Green Tea Nerd Moment:
P53 is our innate tumor suppressor gene. In healthy individuals, it’s responsible for the programmed cell death of cancer cells called apoptosis. When mutated, it becomes inactivated which contributes to unregulated tumor growth. Cancer itself knows how to turn the gene off so that it can continue to grow. Then cancer cells become “immortal” per say, because nothing is programmed to kill them. It’s a self-serving cycle!
(If you’re wondering what mutates the gene in the first place before cancer turns it off by hand? Inflammation, diet, lifestyle, lack of connection and community, carcinogens, free radicals, stress).
Dr. Jody Noe, who taught both me and Dr. G says, “Why isn’t every cancer treatment center around the world looking at the P53 gene? Because they don’t know what to do with it since HERBS are what can change and turn it back on!”
What’s really exciting is that this gene (P53) which protects cells from becoming cancerous, can be highly activated by many natural substances!
HERBS, FOODS AND NUTRACEUTICALS THAT TURN P53 BACK ON:
Turmeric (must be high curcumin percentage)
Melatonin (20mg peak cancer dose)
Garlic (load up your food)
Skullcap (tea or tincture)
EGCG from green tea
Resveratrol (supplement OR grapes, blueberries, cranberries, red wine, dark chocolate)
Vitamin D + Vitamin C
Selenium + Zinc
Sulforaphane (from broccoli/broccoli sprouts)
Ginger (contains 6-Gingerol)
Phenethyl isothiocyanate (from cruciferous vegetables)
Proanthocyanidins (from berries, beans and wine)
Carotenoids (from peas, cabbage, tomato, orange, carrots, pumpkin and spinach)
Terpenoids (from citrus, cherries, grapes)
On the other hand, processed foods, refined flours, and excess sugar will impair P53. Smokey flavoring and smoked foods can also damage DNA. Chemicals such as benzene and perchloroethylene, two volatile organic compounds, negatively affect p53, possibly causing them to stimulate rather than suppress cell proliferation.
Green tea also turns off VEGF (Vascular endothelial growth factor) which is the signal that stimulates the formation of blood vessels that “feed” cancer growth with blood. The best way to turn off that VEGF signal and help cut off the blood supply to cancer is to consume a therapeutic dose of 5-10 cups of green tea per day.
Dr. Jody says, “Get a huge cup of that expensive NYC matcha and you just had your entire day’s worth. Matcha is my favorite because it’s concentrated and you can get an extremely high quality organic source.”
WHERE TO FIND DR. G:
This is an episode I know I’ll come back to time and time again. Thank you so much to my friend Dr. G for coming to teach us and give us the juice about cancer prevention. He is a selfless human who genuinely wants to help others, and we both hope that you derive so much value from this episode. You can find the man the myth the legend here:
HEAL THY SELF PODCAST: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/heal-thy-self/id1455361893
This week we gave you Dr. G, next week we’re going big with Dr. Z!
Dr. Zelina Medina is a doctor of acupuncture who talks with us about how she healed from Lupus and all of the inner emotional and spiritual work she’s done to get to where she is today. We discuss generational trauma and how it can affect our physical health (including the Adverse Childhood Experience questionnaire) and she gives us a ton of tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine. Is it next Monday yet?! 😜
Links Mentioned in the Show:
- Our mutual teacher Dr. Jody Noe who also specializes in integrative cancer care: https://www.drjodyenoe.com/
- Quadruple-tested green tea screened for heavy metals: Pique Tea
- Our favorite hormone test that utilizes urine and saliva and covers estrogen detox pathways: https://dutchtest.com/
- Water Filter: Berkey Filters
- Dr. G’s Post on Protein Powders
- Dr. Jolene Brighten, a naturopathic doctor and hormone expert who we love: https://www.instagram.com/drjolenebrighten/
- Dr. Brighten’s Book (must-read): Beyond the Pill
- The Toxins That Affected Your Great-Grandparents Could Be In Your Genes: read article
- You are what your grandmother ate (Intergenerational impacts of prenatal nourishment): via Science Daily
- Casomorphins in dairy: study
See you next week!