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Optimal Health Complexity Science & Optimized Health

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  • Using complexity science to understand how the brain works.
  • Findings in my practice that have surprised me about health.
  • Understanding attention and mental energy.
Chronic Illness
Robby Besner PSc.D.

Welcome back to another exciting interview. Today, I have a dear friend for years. We go back when I had an opportunity to walk his land with him and his wife and some friends and my wife in Asheville. It was amazing. I think there were, I must have climbed at least 2000 feet. At least it felt that way to me. Dr. Dan Stickler is in much better shape than I am, and he climbed it tirelessly. We did have an opportunity to have a great meal at his home, and he was amazing and his wife, in their hospitality. Dan is an amazing author, speaker, blogger, podcast. He’s done everything. He’s an MD, and he’ll give us a little bit of the backdrop of where he was and where he is today. 

But he’s really exciting because the things he’s doing now, well, actually it started at way back when, when he started what’s called the Apeiron Center and it’s really about reaching optimal health and human potential. And I don’t know if you know this about me, Dan, in my own research, I actually kind of each year have a topic and it came to me from a mentor of mine Dr. Lee Cowden. And so every year he’d have like a dedicated topic. And in 2021 my topic was optimal health. And so of course our body of work is harnessing infrared sunlight, but there’s a spin on that in creating a healing platform to help the body, you know, revive itself. 

So optimal health is right there. And what I discovered was it’s, and prior to that for 20 plus years, we were working with the chronically affected challenged people. That’s the community we’re talking today, the Lyme community. And as a practitioner, I can’t say it’s easy, but it’s not as difficult to move the needle and help someone that’s chronically ill because they’ve got all these different kinds of symptom. And so we can kind of go one by one and figure out the puzzle and get them sort of back on track. Now it’s a whole different story when you’re dealing with someone that’s optimal health and you wanna maintain that and continue to raise the bar. So that’s a whole other equation and I kind of liked it because it was an awesome challenge. And it’s new. It’s really, to me, it’s sort of cool to address people before they get chronically ill or before they’re symptomatic to maintain that high bar. So Dr. Stickler, thank you so much for joining us, joining us on the Lyme summit, Healing from Lyme Naturally summit, and how you doing today?


Dan Stickler, M.D.

I’m doing great. Unfortunately, my wife, as I told you, she finally got caught by the COVID. She’s kind of convalescing from that, but she’s doing great. Yeah, I mean, I love meeting you guys and getting to know you and maintain the friendship at a distance since that time. And I do miss that land in North Carolina, we moved from there to downtown Austin in a high rise and lived in a glass box for about three years, but now we’re getting back to the land and it feels good so.


Robby Besner PSc.D.

Well, I had an opportunity to go to the European center and meet Natasha who was my spiritual sort of guide. I almost think it was my chaperone because I had truly an out of body experience. And when your wife came and rescued me was a little bit more than rescuing me. I was in a zero gravity chair suspended about three or so feet above in a completely dark room, completely soundproof room. And it was filled with energies and crystals and earth energy, and I’ve truly, really elevated and found a lot of my creators. 

A lot of my voices in my head, a lot of those spiritual guides that follow me, and when Mickra grabbed me, I was like sobbing and crying almost uncontrollably because I had such a revelating experience that I’ll never forget. So I’m very grateful and thankful for that. But today we’re talking to the Lyme community and you have a world of experience. And I’m just wondering if you could just spend a minute for everyone that’s just tuning in, give us a little bit of the backdrop on Dr. Dan and kind of walk us forward as to the kinds of things that you’re doing today.


Dan Stickler, M.D.

Yeah, so my background is probably a little different than most of the people that you’ve had on the podcast. I was a general and vascular surgeon for 10 years. I kind of chose the field of surgery because I enjoyed working with my hands. And I felt like it was something that I could improve quality of life for people. Most of medicine was about just the slowing this stepwise progression of death which I was not about and using a lot of pharmacology, which I was not about. So surgery was the logical finding for me, but that also didn’t fit well with my thought processes. I was more about how can we have a better life? How can we improve in just having a life of excellence? I say, and you don’t have to be somebody who’s sick to get to that point. 

I mean, you know, in the sick care system, you’re either sick or not sick. If you’re not sick, there’s nothing for you. But in an optimal health system, you can take somebody who’s severely ill, or you can take somebody who’s fit and healthy and you can still move the needle for them in progressing them to a better life. So I kind of exited surgery on December 31st, 2009, almost spontaneous, it really was spontaneous. I was finishing up a surgery and I was taking off my gown. And I said, you know what, guys I’m done. I’m not gonna do any more surgeries. And they were laughing at me because, you know, I was only 10 years into my career. And I was probably the busiest surgeon in that city. And I think everybody was a little bit shocked, including my parents who were just like, what are you talking about? And I said, I just, I don’t have a passion for it anymore. 

I wanna do health optimization. And I had been doing it as kind of a hobby for about five years prior to that. And so we went into health optimization and this whole progression has been for me to really usher in a new paradigm of health and wellness, as opposed to the old paradigm, which is kind of stuck in that disease model. And so we developed the Apeiron Center, which you were talking about, we initially had an office in Asheville, North Carolina, in Austin, Texas. And during COVID, we decided we were gonna close the Astro office because the foot traffic was not there. Most people kind of fly in, we do our work remotely after they meet with us. But our Austin center is pretty amazing. I mean, we work with just about anybody there. 

I mean, people can come in from any stage of life that they’re in and look to optimize through data. And one of the things I should probably pre-frame all this with is the new paradigm that I’m talking about that we’re working with. And it’s not really new. I mean, we knew about it back in the early 1900s but it’s just 1950s it started to pick up. But then the medical establishment has kind of pushed it aside but it’s systems based approach. I’m gonna get a little philosophical on this, but I think it pre-frames what we’re gonna be talking about. 

The traditional medicine and even functional medicine, even though it says it takes a holistic approach, I found when I did functional medicine, I got into the same dilemma. It’s very reductionist and linear. And what I mean by that is we say, okay, we have this human being, this human being is ill. So now let’s look at the individual organ systems. And then we go from looking at the organ systems down to looking at the cells and then we go from the cells and down looking at the molecules. And then we find some molecule that’s out of whack. And we’re like, oh, there’s the problem. There’s the root cause. This is what’s happening with this person. The problem is linear reductionist systems are simple or complicated. It’s the only way to describe them in that all of their parts equal the whole. So you can take every piece of it, put it together and all those pieces add up to a whole, whereas a complex adaptive system, which is what the human system is, the parts don’t equal the whole. And it’s not about the materialistic or the mechanicalistic aspects of the body, where we go from an organ down to a cell, down to a molecule. That is a materialistic reductionist approach. What everything in the human system is about is relationships and context, not objects. And this is a hard concept for most people in the health system to understand is it’s this dynamic interaction between them. I mean, we have feedback loops, we have feed forward loops, all this stuff that just plays back and forth that changes the net result of the holistic human. And when we take a reductionist approach, we lose all those relationships. 

We don’t understand what’s going on. And you know, this is even propagated by the term root cause. I mean in a complex system and I can tell you, there is not a single person who understands systems that will not tell you that the human system is a complex adaptive system. You don’t ever have a root cause, it doesn’t exist because it’s all these different pieces that come into play. You know, I’ll ask physicians when I’m teaching, I’ll say give me one thing in health and wellness that has a root cause. You know, they’ll name things. They’ll say like, oh, urinary tract infection. It’s bacterial infection. Well, yeah, but that’s not the root cause. That’s one of the aspects of the system that created the outcome of the sick human being. You know, you’ve gotta look at the gut microbiome. You’ve gotta look at their iron levels. You’ve gotta look at their lifestyle. Look at their anatomy, look at their, you know, all this stuff that plays into it. Because you can have somebody who is just like this person in many ways and they don’t get urinary tract infections, but this one does. 

So why is it that this one gets it and they’re both harboring the same bacteria? Why does this one get sick and this one doesn’t? And this is the approach that we’ve been really, really kind of trying to get people to understand and start to adopt is to start looking at the human system holistically. And I’m not talking about the holistic medicine approach. I’m talking about truly looking at the entire system. 

I’m talking about the W-H-O-L-istic system. And this doesn’t stop it at the human skin. I mean, this is also the environment, the biosphere, these are all parts of the human system that aren’t necessarily taken into account. And on this topic in particular Lyme disease, I ask people, I say, you know, why do we have an epidemic of Lyme disease right now? And they’re like, well, just, the ticks are getting more of this, people are getting more exposed to it, all this, but you know, they’ve looked back at some of the potential contributors to this outcome. And one of the things Charles Eisenstein talks about this, the reason we have an epidemic and that has so many contributing factors one of them was farmers started using insecticides on the crops. Well, the insecticides tended to kill off the predators of the ticks, mainly the wasps. And so the tick population grew. And on top of that, there was a lot of mitigation of hunting of deer in the Northeast. 

There was a lot of programs going into place to limit the amount. And there tended to be an overpopulation of the deer. And with that, you have more deer, you have more ticks, you have more people out in nature, you know, all of this stuff. So what is the root cause of the Lyme epidemic? I mean, we don’t know. I mean, there’s all these things that contribute to it. So you’ve gotta look at the system. So trying to correct the Lyme epidemic, what do you do? Do you limit people from going outside? Do you stop using the pesticides? Do you allow more hunting of deer? I mean, put everybody on an antibiotic. There’s not a simple answer.


Robby Besner PSc.D.

Where do you stop? Where you draw the line? You can go deeper and deeper down that rabbit hole. I totally agree.


Dan Stickler, M.D.

So, I mean, that’s been our approach is really looking at the human system from that angle. And what it means is you don’t get focused on individual parts and this has been a game changer for the interventions that we’ve been doing for people.


Robby Besner PSc.D.

Yeah, I take the same approach too. And I think to say it in a different way for people that kind of just tuned in, many of the allopathic approach to, and not just allopaths, but a health approach, healthcare approach or sick care, like you said earlier, we have a tendency to sort of try to isolate and compartmentalize just one aspect and that was the tipping point that just broke the camel’s back. And like you said a little earlier and we’ll dive it deeper into this I hope, about the complexities of not just the complexities of Lyme and all the different influences co-infections and so forth, but also the complexity of the body. And then what is affecting the complexity, you just mentioned about the external biome, internal biome, the epigenetics, how that changes and from day to day. 

Really what you’re talking about is not a static model. It isn’t something that’s like a snapshot, it’s truly a dynamic model that’s changing every trillionth of a second. You brain’s getting more influences, getting more different kinds of, I almost want to say stressors, but really they’re just, like I said, influencers it’s getting information constantly and recalibrating based on the new information to try to create a homeostasis or some equilibrium in your body temperature, your attitude, like just how you feel in general, your body energy. All that stuff is going on and we’re not thinking about it, its just done automatically. But, you know, I love the way you look at the world, because you don’t have to be flat on your back with Lyme disease or even optimally healthy or operating Lyme person to try to achieve optimal health. And so whether you’re sick or whether you’re really well is still the same story about achieving your human potential. These are your words from your motto or your mission statement. 

And it’s truly right. And it is defined by each of us somewhat by our genetics and the choices that we make. But you touched on a topic that’s so sensitive to my patients, like, why me, why now, right? And how is it that I could be in the same room with you get exposed to Lyme or the core infection and not be symptomatic and the other person might be, and why is that? And really that’s the complexity that we’re talking about. Well back to isolization or reductionism, the root cause is looking for one thing, or maybe a combination of a few things when truly we’re talking about the whole body. And that’s just mind, body, emotions, the whole package. So I truly appreciate that approach because I think that’s the one that’s sustainable. That’s the one that kind of gets you on the road to recovery and better health. And it actually keeps going, it’s not a straight road, there are some setbacks, but you have a trajectory that is in a healthy pattern rather than the spiraling down pattern that we have now many patients, my patients get stuck in that one. And so your approach, I think, is the healthy one, the right one. And it does treat the whole person. And we are individual and so that is beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. So what are you focusing on these days that you wanna share with us, that you feel would be important for us to know today?


Dan Stickler, M.D.

Well, it’s exactly what I was talking about is we are focusing on really treating the human system from that systems based approach. I mean, you know, just like you’re talking about why is this person getting all these symptoms of Lyme disease? This other person got bit too and they don’t get it. I mean, you can look at a lot of things. I mean, from a genetic standpoint, you can look at people who are born with certain HLA genotypes that make them predisposed to not being able to get rid of biotoxins like the spirochetes of Lyme or the mold spores, all of that. And, you know, the whole cascade that that creates, you’ve gotta start taking into account everything else, you know, what is the health of their immune system? What’s their diet? I mean, are they eating healthy? Are they eating food that’s going to impair their ability of the body to function, are they eating out of homeostasis, are they not exercising? You can look at lifestyle factors like you mentioned, you know, how stressed are they? You can look at even things that you wouldn’t even think about. what’s their relationship with their spouse like? 

Maybe that’s what’s happening with the stress that’s occurring and suppressing the immune system. Are they pursuing hedonic happiness, or are they pursuing eudaimonic happiness? The immune system, they’ve done studies on the epigenetics of the immune system where people who pursue eudaimonic happiness have a much stronger immune system and the hedonics actually have an impaired immune system. So you’ve got a lot of factors there. And then you start looking at things like the chronic inflammatory response syndrome. Why are some people more prone to this than others? You’ve got these toxins released from the fat cells. You’ve got the spirochetes that get into the brain, and they’re gonna start impairing function of multiple areas. 

One of the common kind of funnel points, I should say is like an alpha-MSH in the brain. These inflammatory cytokines that are released, they start really suppressing alpha-MSH in the brain. That leads to all these symptoms. And so people have all these symptoms, but this is the result of the out of control inflammatory response that was initiated by the biotoxin, not necessarily one that’s continuing to propagate the cause of the biotoxin. So you may be able to get rid of the biotoxin, but if you haven’t done anything to address the system that’s responsible for the symptoms that are occurring or if you just go after the symptoms and try treat to it, like, you know, you have impaired sex hormone production with lowered alpha-MSH, so what do you do? You go in there and you put ‘them on testosterone or estrogens, or, you know, you’re treating the symptom, but you haven’t gotten, and I don’t wanna say that’s root cause because it’s just one of the systems within the systems that’s interacting. 

And you know, this whole process will lead to the, I call it the neuro Lyme triad. It’s excited toxicity of the neurons, it’s oxidative stress and neuro inflammation. And that’s a cascade that’s hard to break once it gets initiated. But it’s not a cascade that you have a pill that you can intervene and do it, or a technique that can do this. You know, you can’t just jump in with red lights on it and say, oh, okay, this is gonna take care of it. Will it? Yes, it will help with it, for sure. But then you can start looking at things, what’s their vitamin D status? Well, why is that important? Well, vitamin D is responsible for a lot of the immune system, it’s a co-factor. But most importantly is it’s responsible for reducing glutathione to the active form. And it also helps to boost the production of glutathione which is really the master antioxidant in the body. I mean, glutathione is the king of this. And so you’ve gotta do that, but you’ve also gotta look at the co-factors that are involved in everything, you know, do you have adequate vitamin C, vitamin E, all of these things, B2, all of these are gonna contribute. 

And this is one of the things, I’m the medical director for Neurohacker, I forgot to mention that, but it’s one of the things that attracted me to Neurohacker was that they were looking at the brain and they were taking a systems approach. And I’ve never seen a supplement company that had taken a systems approach to a supplement. And you know, I saw the results of it. That’s why it caused me to reach out to them because I saw the results in my clients and all these new tropics that had been on the market, they work for about half the people and the other half, no response. But with Qualia, when it first came out, in the original formulation, it was working for 90% of the people that were trying it. And I was like, okay, something’s up with this. So I called and I ended up getting on a call with Daniel Schmachtenberger to ask him about that. And we talked about five minutes about Qualia and then we talked another hour and a half just about systems approach to health. And I was like, oh my God, there’s somebody else thinking the way I do, I was so excited. And we’ve become lifelong friends since then. And working at Neurohacker has been such a gift because I get to see a company that takes that system based approach in the development of their supplements. And I was just like, okay, this is right up my alley.


Robby Besner PSc.D.

I’ve been blessed ’cause Daniel and James’s mother–


Dan Stickler, M.D.

She is a amazing woman, I have to tell.


Robby Besner PSc.D.

I know, and we had an opportunity to interview her. And we also interviewed James for this lunch summit. And when Qualia was doing their, Daniel was coming out and doing his beta testing, we actually were part of that, participating. The system was a little bit more complex when he first came out with it, but now it’s way more user friendly and truly the neurotropic area of research and development is amazing. And, you know, when I saw that you joined their team, that made way sense to me because it was all about that optimal, giving potential, reaching that potential and what better way than having your brain online, right. And what you described earlier about the cytokine storm, many people experienced that when that happens, they experienced that brain fog my daughter used to get what we called “Bette Davis Eyes”, where she would sort of we’d be talking, and then all of a sudden she would drift off.

And I don’t know if it was like a little mini stroke or what, but she actually sort of left the room for about a minute or two, and then she would come back and be completely present but have no consciousness of what experience she had during those one to two minutes, there was a lapse in her memory. Now Lyme patients are all over the place. They could have neurological expressions of sort or it’s just body. But it’s still all connected because we are truly on board with a systems approach to all of this. And so that whole neurological or neuro Lyme piece is super important. And what you said something earlier that really triggered me and it had to do with toxicity and inflammation. And also like earlier, we said, why me, why now. There’s also this kind of notion that there was some tipping point, like I was doing fine and all of a sudden boom, and there was some kind of straw that broke the camel’s back. And if I just go back one day and I take that straw away, am I gonna be back on track to where I was before? And it doesn’t work that way. 

It’s just what you described earlier. You kind of build up to a point where then you tip over and then now we’re talking about having to fix or get back on track, but it’s more rudimentary, it’s more fundamental. We actually have to get all your ducks lined up and actually create that healthy platform. And however you get to that approach based on your blood work or your clinical or even how the patient is describing their symptoms, you as a practitioner can kind of put that puzzle together and create that game plan that’s individualistic because even though we are systems, you take a systems approach, how our body expresses is different from person to person.

And so all that being taken into account is it, you know, it’s complex, but you can work through it, you just have to be methodical about it. And also have a realistic expectation that this, it may have taken you 10 years to get symptomatic. There’s no magic pill for this. It doesn’t switch in just a day. Coming down that toxic mountain it’s like one step at a time like you got up the mountain. But most of Lyme patients that are expressing themselves with symptoms, it’s generally because they’re toxic or they have inflammation of sort. And so sort of getting that a little bit under control however you approach that, gives the patient part of their life back, which is inspiring, right? And it gives the practitioner, or a team of practitioners a little bit more time to figure out the best path to maintain that optimal health and keep going in that direction. So this is pretty cool. Can we talk a little bit about the whole neurological part that from your experience and then I’m hoping that we can get a couple of your secret tips as to what is that we could learn or gleam today that might help all of us for what we’re gonna be doing tomorrow that will get us on track.


Dan Stickler, M.D.

Yeah, you know, I wanna bring up a point as we get into this that you mentioned, and this is huge because the medical community in general, the traditional medical community, they’re basing a lot of their stuff on some of this research that shows, well, if you have early neurologic Lyme, then you treat for seven to 14 days with either beta-lactam antibiotic or the Tetracycline doxycyLyme. And then if it’s late stage then you treat for 21 days. And yet I have seen people that have gone through this. And they had the definitive positives, they had the CSF IgG, IgM responses and the inflammatory markers, all the symptoms of it. And then they treat them for 21 days and some of the symptoms resolved, but some of the symptoms got worse. And they maintained for, I had one client that maintained it for two years after that. 

And, you know, everybody told ‘them, oh, it’s just all in your head, which to me a lot of it was in the head, but not in the way they were saying it. Because when we do things like we would do their EEG, we noticed there’s neuro inflammation going on, there’s excitotoxicity of the neurons going on and obviously oxidative stress. So that neuro Lyme triad is a nasty triad that doesn’t break just because you treat the offending agent that started the process, this cascade. I mean, much of things, even like COVID, I mean, it’s not necessarily the virus that creates that, and it’s not the spirochetes that creates this long term issue. 

A lot of it is the body’s response to it in hyper responding to something in a way that’s not in homeostasis to balance the system. You know, in surgery, we used to see this in trauma all the time. It’s called ARDS or acute respiratory distress syndrome . And they noticed this, they called it shock lung, and they saw it in the soldiers. They’d be shot and then they’d have a second trauma of some sort. And then all of a sudden their lungs filled with fluid. They had this massive cytokine response and inflammatory response. And it wasn’t due to the things that were occurring there. It was due to the body’s response to the things that had occurred. And I think Lyme is a classic example of this. And so we see that it starts this process, this process of neuro inflammation, neuro excitotoxicity and oxidative stress in the brain. Once that cascade gets going, I mean, it just feeds upon itself. 

You know, you can treat the Lyme, but you still got this process going on because the body’s not in homeostasis, it’s not balanced. And so how do you address that? Well, you address by giving the system everything it needs to allow it to do homeostasis. I mean, you know, the human system is such a super intelligent system. I mean, it just amazes me at what it’s capable of doing. And 95% of the time, all we do is screw it up by doing these interventions. I mean it is a brilliantly intelligent system. And we try to do these things, classic example is in marathons what’s the most common cause for admission to a hospital? It’s hyponatremia because people over hydrate during the marathons, because we’re told we gotta drink water, you gotta drink water at every stop. You’ve gotta pour all this water in. And yet it creates the problem. If you just started listening to the body and saying, am I thirsty, do I need something to drink? You’d probably be just fine. But if you’re forcing yourself to because you think that’s the logical thing to do, that’s where things go awry and we’ve lost. 

I think when we’ve gone from the hunter gatherer world into modern age, we’ve lost something that I call interception of the body. And that’s with sensing things, am I hungry? Well, do I eat because it’s the time of day, do I eat because it’s breakfast, lunch and dinner? Is that in our circadian clock? No, we eat because we’re hungry. So people will say, well, should I intermittently fast? And I’m like, are you hungry in the mornings? And they go, sometimes. Well, then I said, sometimes intermittently fast, you eat when you’re hungry. The body’s telling you something there and we’ve gotta start listening to it. You go to the bathroom when you feel like you need to go to the bathroom. You go to sleep when you’re tired. Those are the things that our bodies, once we start to learn the language of the interception of the body, then we can really start moving towards homeostasis.


Robby Besner PSc.D.

I totally love that. I often talk about it in terms of the inner doctor, the inner voice in us. And so many of us have tuned it out. And so many of us are programmed because of TV and advertising, you know, to buy certain foods and eat three meals a day and so forth. And I’m not coming from a place of judgment. I’m actually agreeing completely with you. We’ve had a few dogs in our families over the years. And training a dog is interesting. And there are some schools of thought that you just put a bowl down three times a day and they eat all the food in that bowl because they don’t know as an animal when they’re gonna be getting their next feeding. And so they eat everything they can because that’s the ration. 

I’ve always taken the approach that I leave a bowl down of food filled all the time. And my dog just grazes. When she’s hungry, she eats. And when she’s not hungry, she doesn’t. And I think that that is a part of nature because she’s tuning into her own inner voice, that’s saying I’m hungry, I’m thirsty and addressing that and we’ve departed from that in many ways so I love that. What you described earlier to me was a body or a system that kind of lost its GPS, its guidance system, that homeostasis, like what I went to when you were talking was autoimmune. That your immune system is trying to attack a invader, could be a parasite, could be Lyme, could be bacteria, it could be virus, whatever. And it keeps trying to attack that. And then sometimes what happens is that invader leaves the serum or leaves your blood where it’s very obvious for our immune system to go after it. And it hides in the tissues and it hides in the cell. But it doesn’t stop the immune system from trying to attack it. And so then what happens is the body starts attacking the healthy cell going after the invader that’s hiding behind the cell or in the cell. And now that’s more of the, what we describe as an autoimmune disease or an autoimmune complex where we’re attacking ourselves or our healthy parts of our bodies also. 

You can unwind a lot of that. There’s lots of science and health applications that work really effectively. But it is a imbalance that’s created. And all these, the other thing that you said that I thought was just beautiful was that we have many ways, the resilience of the body to heal itself, to give it the deficiencies that you can see in a blood test and different diagnostics, and then turn its GPS back on so it gets back to what it knew itself as. Then there’s multiple ways, there’s multiple roads to Rome to get back to good health. And I know you’ve seen that a lot in your clinic and even in your own practices that how amazing, we call it a miracle, right. When we can’t explain it with science, then it’s a miracle, right. So fine, okay, well, how many miracles,


Dan Stickler, M.D.

It’s spirituality, you know, that’s,


Robby Besner PSc.D.

Yeah, and these miracles are happening all around us. Not to get religious about it but if you look at the Old Testament or even New Testament scriptures, they talk about miracles happening basically all the time around. It was every day and they worship, they danced around the miracle, they embraced the miracle. It wasn’t just like, oh, it’s a miracle, fine, let’s go back to cause and effect, you know, because I really wanna be on science. That’s what sells, not miracles, but we are truly a miracle. And our, whoever delivered us, gave us so much great information and the ability to bounce back. And it’s truly inspirational, particularly for the Lyme guys that are tuned in today, that aren’t feeling so great, there are ways back. And you just have to, you know, discover where the deficiencies are. And then simply, you know, sort of get on that road clearly with advice from, you know, with people like your self and the approach that you’re taking which I believe is really the right approach, that full human experience approach not just an isolated circumstance per se. So you got hooked up with the Neurohacking group, they’re doing some amazing work. 

The Lyme community is often affected neurologically. And that’s an important thing because when you’re not feeling so great and you can’t think so great, then you can’t make really great judgements or maybe make the best choices. I always like to make choices for myself and my family when there’s no money involved and there’s no emotion involved, when you can kind of do a cleaner thinking. But many of us don’t have that luxury. We’re hit with Lyme or we’re hit with COVID and I’m flat on my back, and there’s a sense of desperation. But it’s really nice to know there are groups like, groups out there and doctors like you and people that have taken very interesting and modern approaches to the equation of going after optimal health or creating that healing platform. So I think that that is important for people to know. And so what kinds of for nootropics and that’s basically either disciplines and/or supplements that support brain health, what kinds of things do you see these days that are interesting that you think people tuning in might wanna know?


Dan Stickler, M.D.

Well, I’ll just kind of give you my typical neuro Lyme protocol these are the tools of my tool belt and I don’t necessarily use all of them with every client. It just really depends on what is necessary in there. So assuming that they have had some kind of a treatment at some point, ’cause I usually don’t see somebody as their initial visit of any sort. But what I’m looking at is, okay, what’s their lifestyle like? How much stress is in their life? Are they getting adequate sleep? Do they have good relationships with family, friends, all of this. So I’m taking into account these lifestyle pieces. Then I’m gonna look at, are they eating healthy? Do they have any gut symptoms with this? Because as you know, I mean, gut symptoms are a common issue in Lyme disease. And so it’s easy to attribute it to something else. 

But some people, it can be their only symptom. And you just don’t know. I mean, that’s the tough one, especially since the diagnostics of Lyme is just so hard. I mean, it’s just so much of it is in really the clinical evaluation, not in the lab tests when we do this. And so many, I mean the docs now, most of ‘them rely solely on lab tests which is crazy. I’ll look at the health of their immune system. So do they need a boost in the immune system? Thymosin Alpha-1, one of the peptides that boosts the immune system is a go-to for most people that are having stress systems, immune system with compromise of some sort or facing infections like COVID. I know the medical community doesn’t like that being mentioned for COVID, but my clinical experience with it has been pretty spectacular with using it. But you also look at things like glutathione. People will say, oh, you know, that glutathione is just that master antioxidant in the body and needs to be healthy. And a lot of times when you have neuro immunologic issues, the glutathione gets really suppressed. So, you know, what we’ll do is we’ll get them vials of glutathione to do daily injections or weekly injections of the glutathione. 

I don’t necessarily have them do IVs. I think the IV is just a little bit too excessive for a single dose when you can get the same amount over a three day just intramuscular injection that they can do at home. You’ve also got the microsomal glutathione which is showing really good effectiveness for people. But then you say, okay, well you put ‘them on glutathione, you gotta make sure they have enough B2 and they have enough vitamin D to make that work because you can give all the glutathione you want, but if they’re not reducing it into an active form, then it’s not gonna happen. So vitamin D deficiency is so common too. I mean, it’s just one of those ones, it’s a no brainer, you’ve got to be on vitamin D. But then we’ll look at things too, like, okay, have they got persistent spirochetes cells that are infected? You know, one of the peptides I really like with that is LL-37 cathelicidin. It’s pretty effective. It makes holes in the membranes of these spirochetes, which is really cool. 

Some people were actually using it to treat COVID too, ’cause it works well for viruses. So this is the treatment wing of it, but it was like you said, you know, we’re dealing also with cytokines, the neuro inflammation, that is the consequence of it. And that reduced alpha-MSH. People who have symptoms of reduced alpha-MSH, I like to use melanotan too, because it’s an alpha-MSH stimulant. And it’s the tanning peptide, but in low doses chronically over time, it works really well to boost MSH so it will bring back that sex drive. It brings back the immune system. It brings back a lot of things. 

It’s not treating the disease itself. It’s treating the consequences of the disease. Lowers the cytokine levels slightly. One new thing that I’m gonna be adding to the staple is, just after getting some good data from COVID is fenofibrate, which is the drug Tricor, it’s a cholesterol drug that is pretty amazing. It’s not a statin, but it works on like five mechanisms with COVID and all these mechanisms I was looking at, I was like, hey, these would work really well for Lyme also, because one of the things it does is it really mitigate cytokines. So it’s got a great cytokine reducing response to it. And then you gotta consider things like, do they have a biofilm? You know, and we can use VIP nasal spray. VIP works well for the gut too. 

But you’re taking in to account all of these things and trying to come up with a logical approach. And when you do that you also wanna make sure you have some kind of way to measure the outcome because I see everybody goes on different things and I’m like, well, why are you taking that? Well, I was told that it worked well for this. Well, I’m like, does it work well for that for you? They’re like, I think so, I don’t know. Well, you gotta come up with some metrics that you can analyze and say, oh, here’s the objective outcome, this is working for me. I do this with supplements all the time. People will come in and they’ll be on like 40 supplements. I had a guy the other day on 109 supplements and I went through the list and I said, why are you taking it? And what are you measuring to see if it’s working? And they had to answer the both questions to my satisfaction or I marked them off the list. And I went from 109 down to four on the one guy. Now after the evaluation, I added a couple back in but I also explained, okay, this is why we’re taking it and this is what we’re gonna measure it to make sure it’s doing what we are thinking it’s doing. So, yeah, I mean, it’s a very comprehensive approach. 

Sometimes we’ll even work with things like, one of the interesting aspects of the brain is this area called or this process called the default mode network. And this is an interesting phenomenon. I mean, it’s there because it benefits us as we get older and we learn new things. Basically, the default mode network will take patterns of responses. And so when it sees a stimulus, it activates that pattern instead of just going, okay, here’s the stimulus now I’ve gotta process all this stuff. So what it’s doing is it’s reducing the processing requirements of the brain. Just like, you know, you drive to work and you arrive there and you’re like, wow, I don’t even remember driving here because your brain was off somewhere else because the default mode network took over and allowed you to focus on other things. But what they’re finding now is the default mode network not only has a good side, but also a not-so-good side in the fact that it will lock in patterns of anxiety, it’ll lock in patterns of depression. It will lock in patterns just sort of not feeling well, of pain even. And so you can do all these treatments for it. But as long as you still have that default mode network pattern, it’s still gonna keep coming back. 

So one of the things that we’ve started to do when we’re working with brain training in our clients, so we do neuro neuromodulation with neuros stem using AC current DC current and transcranial magnetic, we’ll give them sprays of ketamine right before they do the training. And the ketamine disrupts existing patterns. That’s why it’s so effective at treating anxiety and depression, you know, the nasal ketamine. But I’ve also seen it work really well for Lyme patients. So, you know, there’s a lot of tools out there that are available. Unfortunately, most physicians aren’t familiar with most of the tools that are available.


Robby Besner PSc.D.

That’s so interesting what you just talked about. People that are just tuning in, they may know that or heard the term trigger, like something triggered this response. And what you described was a pattern and how you can kind of get caught in that loop or that pattern until it’s kind of broken. And sometimes people do it through visualization or guided meditation. They can do affirmations that can sort of retrain their brain to break a pattern that was not necessarily healthy for them. Then they actively did that, or had coaches that helped them do that. It’s interesting that you can, there are medical approaches or supplements or certain kinds of medications that you can use to initiate the breaking of that pattern, relaxing you and the brain so that you can actually reprogram. And if we were computer programmers I’d tell you to wipe your cache. 

All that stuff that’s been, recorded that you just hit one button on your computer and immediately brings up that website or brings up that person or whatever it is that you searched before, the brain kind of works similarly. And as we like to think that we can lock in those positive experiences and memories and trigger those, it sort of works the other way. And the one that people mostly relate to is this PTSD, that emotional trauma that comes from some experience, however that is. And then there’s some trigger that happens say something or whatever, and then it brings them boom, right back to that place, the pain as if it had just happened to them. I mean, as deep as it had just happened. That’s how a lot of the brain works in some sense. Generally–


Dan Stickler, M.D.

Last week, sorry to interrupt you there.


Robby Besner PSc.D.

No, go, go.


Dan Stickler, M.D.

I think this is important because last week, I had a client call and this was a client that had two years of Lyme. I mean, he was bedridden, on the verge of suicide, just a mess. And he resolved it on his own. He was a chiropractor and he had resolved it on his own. So he had this before I saw him and he was doing great and then last week he calls me, he said, you know, the week before last I got COVID. And it started all the symptoms of the Lyme again, started the whole process. He said, I thought I was back in the loop and I wasn’t gonna get out but fortunately he did. But I can see that happening.


Robby Besner PSc.D.

We also see that with functioning Lyme patients that are on a good path and they seem to got their lives, you know they still have Lyme, but they’re kind of operating and feeling all right. Then they get in contact with mold. And as soon as they get that combination, boom, just like what you said, they just do a big tail spin, as sick they ever were. They actually make a deeper dive, many of them.


Dan Stickler, M.D.



Robby Besner PSc.D.

So there is a lot of interaction in the microbial world and how it affects us overall. I really wanna go back to the vitamin D aspect and just vitamins in general. And I loved when you talked about paring down the big list of supplements. If you don’t take things in the right order or dose them the right way, then we’re wasting a lot of our time and money ’cause the body’s not absorbing. So like you said, the combination of the B complexes with vitamin D and how that works with glutathione. So people just look at that and mitochondria health, right. Cell health and they go, oh, okay, well just take this supplement. It’s gonna support mitochondria. But I mean, that’s a broad topic and there’s so many things that go into just getting their mind online. 

So I think that really taking a good inventory of what you’re taking, why you’re taking it and not taking no for an answer if you ask your practitioner or your health team, what it is that I’m taking and why am I taking it? Am I doing it in the right order so I get the best absorption or potentiating of that supplement to really make it happen. I think that that’s an important lesson for all of us to know, not just a Lyme patient, but just all of us to know in general, especially in this world. 

I took an inventory of my supplements recently and we had a primary relationship with Premier Research Laboratories out of Austin. And I filled an entire cabinet just with their stuff alone. And I was looking at it, I’m going, why do I have all this? What am I doing with all this? And frankly, I’ve reduced myself down to a handful of things that I use pretty much every day. But in one of them is binders, I love binders because a binder generally just helps keep your serum, your blood, less toxic because it’s binding up some of those toxins. 

And some of the binders out there are specialized so they can go after microtoxins for mold or heavy metals or chemicals. And all of those toxicants are contributors. And if we can lower that toxic burden like we talked earlier then we lower inflammation, then everybody, the patient feels a little less symptomatic or has less symptoms. They feel like they’re getting their life back. The practitioner thinks like, oh my God, I am a gold medalist now as a practitioner helping that patient. But mostly it’s giving everybody a lot of time to really dive in deep as to the, what it is that might be the way back home.


Dan Stickler, M.D.



Robby Besner PSc.D.

So totally cool.


Dan Stickler, M.D.



Robby Besner PSc.D.

Well, I can talk to you for days, but I know that your time is limited and I really appreciate the time you spent with us and the things you shared. So we’re gonna come to sort of a close and I was just Dr. Stickler, can you let us know or let everybody know how can they get ahold of you? Is it through the Neurohacking group? To give us an idea of the best ways for people to contact you, your group and tap into your intelligence and the things that you’re doing next.


Dan Stickler, M.D.

Yeah, the best way to get in touch with us is through our main corporation which is Apeironzoh corporation. It’s a P-E-I-R-O-N-Z-O-H. It’s Greek for limitless life but apeironzohzo.com is our main portal of entry.


Robby Besner PSc.D.

Okay, so they can contact you. Do you work virtually as well, or do people have to be, you know, in your–


Dan Stickler, M.D.

Yeah, yeah.


Robby Besner PSc.D.

Great, yeah. I love that. That’s really kind of the clinic without walls, right? You can really just get an opportunity to touch people and that’s on all levels. So you can come in to help someone get on track. You can take a look at what they’re doing and say, hey, you know, I would do it, I’d use this, but maybe take a little different approach with the same elements and so forth. And so that’s what I call ancient wisdom and really amazing. So thank you for sharing that and thank you for spending time with us today and certainly, thank you for joining the Healing from Lyme Naturally summit. We really appreciate your time. 

Hey everybody, it’s Robbie Besner. Thanks so much for joining us today. Please share this content with anyone that you think might benefit from it. And we’re looking forward to having you with us tomorrow for another great interview.


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