Featured Article: August 2018 – Conference

Conference Offers Multiple Sessions on the Microbiome, Inflammation, and Advanced Endocrinology for Age Management Medicine

Jeff Morris

November’s 25th Clinical Applications for Age Management Medicine Conference will offer topic-specific blocks, and one of the most intensely anticipated is the Saturday block that will focus on the Microbiome, Inflammation, and Advanced Endocrinology.

This block of lectures is largely the brainchild of Dushyant Viswanathan, M.D., Medical Director of the Columbia Center for Integrative Medicine, with locations in Columbia, Maryland and Woodland Hills, California.

Speakers in this lecture block in addition to Dr. Viswanathan will include Zach Bush, M.D., Ram Dickman, M.D., Lihong Chen, Ph.D. and Elaina Heather Viswanathan, RYT.

Dr. Viswanathan shared some of his philosophy and the reasons he is so excited to be able to offer this block of lectures at the AMMG conference. He speaks in a kind of free-form flow of ideas, so let’s listen to some of them. “The major premises of the AMMG world of wellness and age reversal, inflammation lowering, cutting edge treatments to optimize well-being…you can’t really do that without talking about the microbiome,” he said, “because the immune system is located in the microbiome and the immune system is dependent on the microbiome.”

“Pretty much everybody that’s part of this world is familiar with hormones and the endocrine system, and use it in an advanced way. Our approach is to do hormones and think about wellness and diet, but also include the microbiome in our use of them. What we have found is that the microbiome is a major determinant of how people develop hormone imbalances, enough to need hormone treatments. Literally every day there is new research being published about the microbiome and its impact on health and illness.”

“The research and science is substantiating this premise, that that aging, and illness, and inflammation worsen and develop imbalances as a consequence of problems in the microbiome. What causes problems in the microbiome?”

“What if two people are genetically identical, why do they look different at age 65? What if they’re cousins? A lot has to do with their particular physiology and immune system. Before the microbiome research came out we had pretty vague ideas about inflammation, the problems of aging and telomeres; we had a bunch of pretty disparate ideas that were loosely connected with genes and hormones and the immune system, but bringing it all together in reality can be done with the microbiome.”

“Our approach is, look at the microbiome, look at people’s hormones, and yes, you can balance people’s hormones, but you can also resolve the hormone imbalance that’s there in the first place by balancing the microbiome.”

“The way the body works, recent research is showing, comes down to inflammation and how inflammation progresses has a lot to do with the immune system being activated, because of damage in the microbiome.”

“What we do is acknowledge the central role of the microbiome. How people’s genes perform is centered in the microbiome.”

“Of course we do hormone balancing and all of that stuff. But what if we can wean somebody off hormones in their 70s and 80s and they can take nothing. What if we can wean someone off of medical treatments and they’re just in a state of wellness?”

“The whole conversation about microbiome and hormones and wellness and anti-aging kind of reinforces the idea that human physiology is so dynamic, it’s not just leading to the grave. The classic western paradigm is, from birth we grow up, and testosterone peaks at a certain age, and then we slowly decay, and to me that’s just not a tenable principle.”

“I have family in India, cousins and uncles in their 90s, who don’t sit crosslegged and live sedentary lifestyles; their brains are sharp. An anti-inflammatory lifestyle can literally prevent dementia.”

“We think unconsciously about a lot of the topics in the aging medicine world as automatically happening to us, and most people statistically do kind of move toward decay, but there’s a reason for that, and it has a lot to do with the microbiome and our immune systems as a population.”

“To reinforce the idea that there are really dynamic principles happening in our physiology, that to me is such an amazing pleasure. To me, to get people to a place of sustained wellness where they don’t even need us, they don’t need hormone treatments—you can get to that point, it’s hard, it takes a lot of work, but as AMMG doctors we have the opportunity to work with a lot of patients who are really into the concepts we’re talking about. For us, integrating the microbiome into the treatments and the diagnostics is very important.”

But what about the lecture block itself? Dr. Viswanathan explained that as well.

“Our idea was to bring this into very specific didactics for the doctors so they can integrate into their practice in a very concrete way,” he said.

“We’ll discuss exactly what doctors think about: How to assess microbiome-based illnesses—that’s clinical assessment; what to test for—the diagnostics; how to interpret the diagnostics, and what to do about the diagnostics—that’s treatments. So each of these four things we’re bringing about in our segment.”

“The first speaker, Ram Dickman, is a gastroenterologist who specializes in the microbiome, he’s got a hospital-based practice in Israel; he’s a Tel Aviv-based physician, GI specialist and endoscopist, but he’s also a research scientist and he publishes in all the European medical journals. He’ll be opening up our segment talking about all the latest research; he’s sort of on the tip of all the latest research on the microbiome. Most people think of the gut when they think of the microbiome, but the fact is 99% of American gastroenterologists know nothing about the microbiome. I think he’s the only board certified GI doctor in this conference, and his input will be very welcome.”

“Then we have a doctor from Genova Diagnostics, Lihong Chen, who has made very sophisticated diagnostic testing for the microbiome, with a functional stool test, Dr. Chen has created the most sophisticated GI testing out there, functional stool testing to assess the microbiome, that’s available right now. He’ll be talking about the different markers and how you can take a stool sample and then make assessments about people’s immune systems and the microbiome, so that will be very useful for the attendees.”

“Following him will be myself, and I’ll be talking about how those diagnostic tests can be interpreted and then applied translationally into the practice to be of service to patients. I guess the major symptom that people come to me for is chronic fatigue; we get to the underlying causes of chronic fatigue, by doing endocrine testing, endocrine balancing, hormone balancing, but also microbiome testing and balancing, using the tests that Dr. Chen pioneered. I’ll be sharing some cases about my patients.”

Dr. Viswanathan said he will also discuss how microbiome repair can fix diabetes, and also how microbiome damage can cause diabetes. His wife, Elaina Viswanathan, will talk about holistic treatments, lifestyle, and clinical application of yoga into the medical practice—among them, what are the principles of yoga that can be applied to chronic insomnia?

“Then we’ll have Zach Bush, who has pretty well demonstrated his passion toward how microbiome dysfunction is a  public health disaster, and use of Roundup has led to microbiome-based damage, and led him to develop his own product to counter it. He puts it all together in this very dramatic and moving talk. And then we’ll do a Q&A to answer any of the questions that people still have.”

“Now it’s the full picture, adding the microbiome to this conference is going to round it out to the extent that now you could finish medical school, enter this conference twice a year and become an extremely good doctor like we’ve never seen before. It continues the revolution that integrative and age management medicine has given to the world.”

“It’s the perfect conference to have all these speakers go through not only these goals for our patients, but it’s a perfect tool that is so relevant for our time; trying to do it without microbiome is disingenuous.”

“New diagnostic techniques will make even what Dr. Chen is talking about obsolete. I’m convinced that ten years from now, microbiome will be regular bread and butter medical practice.”

Are Dr. Viswanathan’s enthusiasm and excitement about this conference segment evident?