Updated: May 23
Podcast Drop Date: 12/7/22
Functional Pediatrician, Dr. Mario Brus, MD obtained his medical and pediatric specialty training at Loma Linda University in Southern California. His current emphasis is pediatric functional medicine, which aims to find underlying causation for pediatric chronic conditions. He addresses the root cause of these conditions with appropriate laboratory testing, genetic testing, and by emphasizing lifestyle and nutrition changes, as well as appropriate nutritional supplementation. This functional approach to pediatrics allows Dr. Brus to partner in the care of children by listening to families' concerns and making children's health his primary focus.
In this episode, Dr. Brus discusses:
- His journey into functional medicine
- Pyramid of pediatrics
- His general approach to the pediatric population
- What is causing most illness and disease in kids today
- His thoughts and approach to autoimmunity
- The best piece of advice he has given to his patients - And more!
Amber Warren, PA-C: Welcome to Functional Medicine Foundations podcast, where we explore root cause medicine, engage in conversation with functional and integrative medicine experts and build community with like minded health seekers. I'm your host, Amber Warren. Let's dig deeper. Welcome back. Amber Warren, your host here today. I am honored to have one of my favorite humans in front of me. Dr. Mario Bruce obtained his medical and pediatric specialty training at Loma Linda University in Southern California. He's a board certified pediatrician currently seeing patients out of our Meridian Wellness Center in Meridian, Idaho. And we've just been so honored to be able to do do functional medicine with this brilliant physician. So welcome, Dr. Bruce.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: You are too kind. Way too kind.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Well, it was honestly, I mean, I've told a lot of people this story, but part of Sam and I's kind of dream and vision of having owning a functional medicine clinic with the rest of our crew is is really being able to do lifelong care. Right. And so I, you know, in starting to work, even work in functional medicine, just as a PA under Dr. Eberhart, I thought, gosh, if we're really looking so far back as to gut health and just the beginning of life, it doesn't make sense really, to think about having a full spectrum functional medicine clinic without having pediatrics as a part of that. Yeah, So, so we're just yeah, we were honored to bring you on board three or four years ago. And why don't you share with us kind of your journey into functional medicine? Everyone has their own unique journey. Yeah, I'd love to share yours.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: I will. First of all, fast forward to when you and I had our conversation about four years ago.
Amber Warren, PA-C: I like it.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yeah. And then and then I'll sort of backtrack a little bit. And this. You know, our interaction during that. Initial interview process. And then my. Actual medical interview. You remember I came to see you, right? Because I wanted to see what your style was.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah, I.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Was interviewing you just as much as you were interviewing me at that point.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Talk about nervous. Oh, great. Yeah.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: And so one of my big takeaways, of course, from your consultation at that point was you need to fix your airway. I don't know if you remember that even vaguely. And so I took that seriously. And I spent the next two and a half years fixing my airway.
Amber Warren, PA-C: You've been putting.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Fixing my mouth and fixing, you know, the issues that I was having with, you know, sleep apnea and stuff like that. And so it really brought front and center focused some of the things that we tend to ignore in traditional medicine, you know, so. So I am an import from Australia. When I was ten years old, I think I told you you folks this when we interviewed, we moved when I was ten. La for a year, moved up to Sacramento, basically grew up in Sacramento area under Ronald Reagan, and that was a totally different time, wasn't it? So I have fun interviewing some of our California imports now. Okay, So. What is it about California now that's so different? What? Why is it the way it is now compared to what it was then? You know? And so went off to college. So I remember during that those first days in college, I was one of the first to actually attend college in our whole family. And so I was kind of walking that. That path alone without much guidance. And so my first love was some sort of science, you know, and engineering. Electronics, that sort of thing was was sort of my my interest. Well, the colleges that I went to didn't have that sort of a pre electronics pre engineering sort of training. So I sort of poked around and the next X next best thing was pre med.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Right. So I said, all right, I've got to do this. You know, this is about as close as I'm going to get. So. Down the biochemistry trail I went, I did a minor in music music performance and that was a lot of fun. However, I quickly realized based on my personality, that performance raised so much anxiety, performance, anxiety, you know, to where I realized I'm not going to be able to do this for, you know, So even even an environment like this, you know, being interviewed is is very anxiety producing, you know, And so so went through my my undergrad, got accepted into med school. First couple of years were rough because basic science was a time when a lot of factoids are thrown at you just rapidly. And my brain works in such a way that I have to be able to hang those factoids onto real something real. And so I took a year off, went and worked at the hospital there, you know, got my brain together, came back, finished the the basic sciences, and then went into clinicals. And that's where I found my true calling. I was it was a lot of fun. So the first rotation was VA hospital medicine. You know, taking care of a lot of the chronic recurring admissions, you know, alcoholics, you know, sad, sad.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Ptsd, mental health struggles.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: And so I realized, you know, this is this is Band-Aid stuff. I mean, I was seeing that already way back then. Second rotation was Pedes. Direct contrast. Absolutely. Direct contrast. And so it was a no brainer for me, you know? So you.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Loved it right.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Away. Right away. Right away. So finished up clinicals, went into residency down there and just flew. I mean, it was it was grueling. It was hard. You know, residency back in those days were was different than nowadays. You know, they didn't.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Know rules.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yeah, our rules. You I mean, you were I remember when I was senior resident in a pediatric intensive care, you went in and you were there for 30 days. You know. You know, you could go out and maybe get some sunshine here and there.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Adrenal dysfunction didn't exist, man.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: So then I thought, Well, I like teaching the other residents, you know. I thought it'd be kind of fun to stick around and teach. So my advisor, Dr. Ashwell, he's a neurologist, pediatric neurologist down there, he said, You know, you can do this. He said. But you will be much more valuable if you went out, got some experience, came back a few years down the road and had something real world to share then, you know. So. You know, it made a lot of sense because they were trying to avoid inbreeding, you know. And so went out, got a position up in Vancouver, Washington, started a clinic up there. I'm a good starter. I'm not a very good finisher. I've started, you know, several practices throughout my life, you know, I'll tell you shortly. So I met my wife there, Sonya, and we decided it was just too wet for us, you know? So we moved out here to to Caldwell actually initially started a Pedes clinic out there. It's still running as we speak. You know, I think it's got three, two or three or four pediatricians out there now, along with the family Docs, brought a lot of my enthusiasm for the intensity of the ICU because that was something I really had a passion for, you know, So I was doing some stuff out there in Caldwell in a little community hospital that was, you know, crazy.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yeah, I remember having one little six month old, five month old with head injury, you know, with subdural hematomas. You know, we admitted to the adult ICU and was doing every other day subdural taps right there in the ICU, you know, and so staying in touch, you know, CT's MRI, staying in touch with they better soon as the neurologist out here at that time. And then a year down the road, the folks at Pediatric Associates called and said, you know, we like what you're doing out there when you come join us. So we talked and it was it was a hard decision, you know, but. Came and joined them. Ultimately, that merged with primary health. And of course, that's that's where Pediatric Associates is now about ten years into that. So this is where I, you know, I start things and I you know, I move on. It's my ADHD.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Maybe that's it. Or you just wanting to continue to better yourself.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Well, no, no, it's the ADHD.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Okay, Fair. I was trying to give you something. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: And so in 2009, took off and started my own practice. And so for ten years, I did my own practice there at Gem State Pediatrics, you know, under the umbrella of St Luke's there. So when the Eagle St Luke's started is kind of when we joined on, you know, And so I had my office there and after about ten years realized, you know, this ownership. So and you may get some of this flavor, you know, running your own practice when you are doing the admin side and you're doing the practice side, it's almost like sometimes a conflict of interest that evolves, you know? And so it became very problematic for me. You know, I would be taking care, put my heart and soul into these families and then having to deal with the financial issues. You know, what do you do with a family that never pays their bills, you know? Yeah. And so, all right, this is not for me.
Amber Warren, PA-C: I'm saying our hearts aren't always. Yeah, yeah. That's not necessarily our.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes. So I looked around the country. And I wanted to find a larger organization, you know, a bigger boat to float through the rough economic seas back then, you know, in 0809. And so found the mercy system out in the Midwest, in Missouri. After interviewing several places, joined in there, joined a group of two other pediatricians, and had a robust practice. It was a rural practice. You know, we joined on with University of Missouri, Columbia School of Medicine. And so we were basically part of their professorship there, you know, so, so taught their medical students, you know, So a lot of the students that came down were just the brightest of the bright, fabulous kids, you know. And so I had to to sort of. Develop some. Some approach to teach these kids, you know, not only the mechanistic side of science, they were getting plenty of that. How to do the human side, you know. And so you can't just deal with just the facts. Just the facts. The lab values, you know. What do you do with the famine is broken. Yeah. The human side. And so because it was a rural practice, we were doing everything, you know, the ERs when they had trouble, they'd send them up to us. You know, we'd take care of them, you know, and had some good nursing staff and ICU X and ICU nurses, you know, that was that were very essential for what we were doing, then went down to Springfield, helped them evolve a a pediatric urgent clinic, you know, got that going, operated that almost like a Pedes ER then towards oh, I don't know, probably. 2013, maybe 1415, interviewed with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia because they wanted to get their urgent clinic going and had some experience doing that, you know, And so. After getting accepted there, you know, and I'll come back a little bit to to the, you know, the medical aspects of my journey. Sonya's condition started deteriorating. So we had I had to decline that position there. You know, that would have been fabulous.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Sonia's diagnosis. You didn't?
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Sure. Yeah, I'll come right back to that. So. So. When I started the practice. When I started the practice in 2010 in the Midwest, Sonya was given a diagnosis of cancer. And so from then on, for the next seven years, it was just a. Very difficult road. And those folks who've actually had to walk that road totally understand, you know, it's it's the initial shock of the diagnosis. And then, of course, you do the traditional stuff. You know, you do the surgery, you do the chemo, you do all this stuff, you know, and and your your pathway is up and down and up and down. But from the start to the finished, it's down. You know, you're up a little bit, you're down, you're up a little bit, you're down. So for the first couple of years after that, you know, she seemed to do fairly well. And then, of course, the metastasis started and the liver, the bone, you know, interfacing with all these different specialties and. So ultimately it was 20 1516, we decided to come on back here because this is where the kids are, you know? And so by that time, she was she was having a lot of a lot of trouble. You know, at that point, you know, we were already dealing with significant liver metastases in the bone, just bone everywhere, you know. And then about just so I lost her basically in 2000, I think it was 2018. I'm having a hard time remembering anymore with the 17. I think it was 2018 in May. And so prior to that, about a year prior to that, she developed some brain, a lot of brain metastases, you know, And so we ended up going up to a.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Seattle, you know, and had some of their targeted radiation treatments. So about halfway into this course of seven years of treating, treating up and down. You know, I started looking into the alternative kinds of thinking, you know, the naturopathic, the chiropractic, you know, got in with some of the folks like Carl Felt's Center, for example, here in Boise. And and some of the naturopaths that that really helped a lot. And I think that that kind of intervention really did extend your life. That with the the damage that our traditional approach created, I think that it was going to be hard to avoid the inevitable, you know. And so, you know, I used my CME money to buy books. I mean, I just loaded up and started reading, reading, reading, you know, And so so that last year or so, I was pretty deep into trying to figure out alternate nature path that kinds of treatments, maybe rethinking cancer causation, you know, as not being necessarily a genetic thing, but rather more of a mitochondrial thing, you know, which which seems to not have taken off quite, you know. The the cancer treatment community has not latched onto that because there's all the research money is into the genetics, right? Yeah. All the money. And so then I got introduced to some of the functionally minded providers across the country, start listening to lectures, then got exposed to Institute of Functional Medicine, started some of their training courses, went off and did some genetic studies with Bob Miller, who's a traditional naturopath. And he has his fabulous, fabulous sort of take off on 23 and me, you know, which which I do use now in my practice.
Amber Warren, PA-C: That's your tree of life.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Tree of life. Yeah.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: And so when I came back to Idaho, I joined up with Saint Al's, and I was there for about three years. And so at the end of that three years is when you gave me that text or call, I don't remember what it was.
Amber Warren, PA-C: And I stalked you. Remember? I You.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Did? Yes, you.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Did. And you fought me off for about six months.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Hey, are you ready to join our practice? Hey, here's what we're doing over here. Hey, Dr. Bruce. Remember me over here in the corner?
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes. So at the end of the three years now, I thought at that point my contract was up, you know, so happened that I still had another couple of years, but I acted like it was, you know, three years was up. And so I said, all right, maybe we can make this work, you know? So again, I'm good at starting things. So I said, we need to do this. We can do this, you know, And and I liked your approach. You know, we had already had interactions, you know, with my interview with you, your interview with me, you know, and so. You said, come, come, start peace for us. And so that's what I did. And so we have three other providers now working with us.
Amber Warren, PA-C: And they're.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Fabulous, absolutely fabulous. They do their case presentations now, and I'm just so proud of him. You know.
Amber Warren, PA-C: You should be proud.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: And so so, yes, I lost Sonia back in 2018, in May. It was a very, very difficult road. And so it gave me an appreciation for families that have to go through that. And there are so many of us now who are going through that, you know, and it's not only cancer, you know, it's the chronic stuff. It's the. So when I see a new little four year old for the first time and I watch him. And he paces the floor and he can't maintain eye contact. And you call his name and he doesn't respond. I know what that family is up against. Yeah.
Amber Warren, PA-C: You know, that's a kind of empathy that. Yes, you can always have.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes. Yes. So, you know, what was interesting to me was the approach in functional medicine is is different than traditional. So traditional medicine. You have your visit. You figure out the diagnosis so that you have a target to treat. Right. And so you need a label. Absolutely. So you get a label so that you can shoot at it. And the more precisely you can, you feel like you can shoot at it. You know, you feel like you've accomplished your job in the 10 minutes that you have available.
Amber Warren, PA-C: That's how we're.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Trained. That's how we're trained.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Exactly right.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Treat it. Yep. And so. You know, as I watched my career over 30 years now, 3540 feels like 400. I realized that when I first started practice, you know, right out of residency, you know, the chronic illness rate in this country in kids was five, 7%. Maybe. You know, we're now we're at 54%. Is this was like two or three years ago. And I think it's much higher now after COVID. You know, over half of our kids. So you go into a classroom with 30 kids, 16 of them are going to have some sort of a chronic issue, 16, 17 of them. One of those kids is going to have autism. Three of them are going to have ADHD. Probably more. Three of them are going to have asthma. You know, you have anxiety, you have autoimmunity. You know, the autoimmunity in kids has absolutely skyrocketed.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Absolutely skyrocketed. I want to dig into that later.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes. You know, when I so four or five years ago when I started down this road, you know, I started seeing. 1415 year olds with positive anti thyroid antibodies, TPO antibodies.
Amber Warren, PA-C: So the body's. That's starting.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: That's crazy, right? This is absolute craziness. You know, I mean, I remember seeing or hearing actually 30 years ago about Hashimoto's, you know, in adults occasionally. Now, I was starting to see it in teenagers. Then two years later, I was seeing it in ten year olds and then I was seeing it in five year olds. Over the last year, we've had two kids at eight months where we picked up TPO and anti thyroid antibodies. So you're.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Screening all your kids.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Screening them all now? Yes. Good. And so now the approach is different, you know, and we may touch on that a little bit later. But, you know, traditionally you say, well, your thyroid is still working fine. These antibodies are only slightly elevated.
Amber Warren, PA-C: We don't know what to do with that.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Don't know what to do with that. And so. Come back, you know, when you've got real problems. These are not real problems, you know. And so I look at those numbers. And I look at the family history and I see autoimmunity, I see methylation issues, I see, you know, cancer, I see heart disease, I see mental health issues. And I know that this this little kid, I know ten years from now where he or she's going to end up, you see. And so my approach is and this is why I like the functional approach, you see, is why not address the issues now while they're still very addressable, you see.
Amber Warren, PA-C: And so that label has to come. Yes. So the pharmaceuticals at it.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes. So it was a very difficult for me to actually take these really complicated kids in 15 minutes. Snippet So you couldn't do that. So I was doing these hour, hour and 15 hour an hour and a half long consults in insurance was just blowing them off because they they don't cover that sort of a workup. You see. Not only that, but in order to study these kids. You know, I always spent I was getting up at three in the morning, you know, doing these little studies of these kids, looking at their their histories in great detail, you know. So I knew what I was up against when I actually met with them, you know. So I realized that our current both compensation system and and medical record system was absolutely inadequate for for these kinds of complexities, you see. And so I just set out to design my own. So you've probably seen my spreadsheet, you know. So I told Sam when I first came aboard, I need two big monitors so I can put this spreadsheet up, you see, so excited. I want to be able to see all this information at a glance.
Amber Warren, PA-C: How your brain works. Yeah. Yeah.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: You know, I don't remember details very well. I need to look at them and see where they fit together, you see. And so. And in the future, when I see, for example, a kid with during a well check and mom starts talking about some of the stuff that we were dealing with, you know, I, I don't remember, you know, because a lot of these complexities sort of start blending together. So I can very quickly pull up their spreadsheet and, you know, 5 seconds, I'm reoriented, you see. And so, yeah, and then I can advise very quickly. So and I'm still using that spreadsheet to this day, you see, and I keep tweaking it and monitoring it and all that. It's not for everyone.
Amber Warren, PA-C: No one's going to question the how behind your clinic because of the result, because of the end result you get. Well, your your outcomes are so phenomenal.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: It takes a lot of effort to do that, you know, for me to come up. So I try and design a treatment plan before I even see the patient. You know, based on the history.
Amber Warren, PA-C: A lot of us kind of have to. Yeah, I mean, we have to see these patients. Yes, Yes. This is a this is a beast.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: So it's a beast. So there are two kinds of. So what we try to do then in fMRI was try to take. And somehow force a traditional pediatric model into functional into a functional setting. So the way that that then looks is we have these 15 minute visits, which are your traditional, well, checks, for example, where we maintain health and make sure that baby's developing well and growth is fine and metals, Right. You know. And so you can pick things up fairly quickly on those sorts of things. And if you pick things up, you know, the next comment is, you know, I have some concerns here. We need to spend more time. So then we set that time up and then we do a deep dive. I call it a deep dive. And so most parents are good with that. Some would like to cover all that stuff in the well check. And I, I do not feel like we we can do justice to some of these complex issues in a 15 minute check. It just doesn't can't happen you know so most people are good with that. Yeah. And so then what is my approach to families then in the exam room? You know, so I typically meet with a new family and. Some. I'm getting old, you know, And my approach is fairly direct anymore because we have a very short period of time and I want to figure things out quickly. So some people are kind of put off with that, but that's okay. My first task is to figure out whether this family and I in this environment are going to fit if this is this going to be a good fit. And so I'll ask some pretty pointed questions, and within about a minute I get a pretty good feel as to whether it's a good fit or not to.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Gauge the readiness, because what we to do. Yes. Yes.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Is this family here for quick fixes? Are they doing traditional stuff? They just they've been doctor shopping and they don't like what they've seen and they've heard good things and so they're on board for another opinion. Yeah, if and then so my next question for that sort of a scenario is, okay, so if I were to tell you, you need to feed your family organic, GMO free, grass fed on processed wood, you know what I meant? If if they get a glazed look on their eyes or their eyes get big, that tells me everything I need to know. You know, if they don't know what that means, then they're they're literally living on a different planet than I am, than where we operate. And it's probably not going to be a real good fit because what I'm going to be asking them to do is going to be way beyond what they're going to be willing to do.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Because, you know, I'll tell them what it takes. It's going to.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Take a.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Lot.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: It's going to it's going to take a lot.
Amber Warren, PA-C: So that really brings up what we have here. Yes.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: So then you see, I have I've got this spreadsheet where I can clinically track these kids. Then as I started seeing lots more of these kids know, I started trying to create a working model that I could actually present to a family That was understandable, a process. You start here, you do this, you do this, you do this because you know you can give them a list of apparently unrelated sorts of tasks. And unless they have some clue as to why they're doing what they're doing, it ain't going to get done. It just is not going to get done, you know, because I know myself. Happiness to me. And so so I started thinking in terms of what we just talked about just recently. Just just a few minutes ago on causation. Where, why, why are our kids so sick? And the Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, these three letter agencies tend to really put a lot of emphasis on genetics. Well, I realize very quickly, genetics doesn't change that fast. Maybe mitochondrial genetics is influenced with with toxins and all that, but ultimately it's our environment. So then I had to start thinking, okay, so what are the kinds of things that I've seen different since? 1990. What is new in our environment that didn't exist before? Well, okay, so I started counting. Well, 1995. You know, the GMO project was, you know, made official by Congress. Right. And can you.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Describe. Identify GMO.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yeah. Gmo status. Yeah. So I'll ask parents to. All right. So do you know what GMO means? And a lot of people will know and most will say, yeah, a little bit. So GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. And so the purpose for introducing that into our food supply ostensibly was to feed the world. Right.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Increase crop.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Increase crop. Right. And so however, when you just you don't have to dig real far to find real motivation. And real motivation is that, you know, you take, for example. So here here's the the the illustration I give to my 12 year olds. I say, you know, if if mom has a garden, you know, 12 by 12 garden. And plant some seeds and you water it and you don't do anything else to it. In about three months, what do you expect is going to happen to that garden? Well, they quickly realized that it's going to get overgrown with weeds. You know, it's going to be kind of hard. And I've had this experience myself. You can't easily find where the plants are, you know, where the tomatoes are and the peppers and all that. So you have to be weeding this stuff. You have to be attending to it. Well, not take that 12 by 12 plot and multiply it by thousands of acres and you get an idea as to how difficult it is to to maintain a weed free corn field or wheat field or whatever. And so, you know, our brilliant scientists came up with this idea that we can spray aerial spray these these big fields, you know, and. The problem is. So if we kill the weeds, doesn't that kill the crop too? Yes, it does. So to prevent the crop from getting killed, we're going to modify the genetics of that crop like corn is the prototypical example of that. We're going to alter it so that it will resist the roundup where the weeds will not, at least not initially. And so now you'll drive around the valley here and you'll see these pristine, gorgeous, beautiful fields, you know, and you drive by and you go, You know what? I know how they do that. And I'm not sure that's so good for us, you know?
Amber Warren, PA-C: And so what is that? Why is that a problem?
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Well, so. So. So the. You know, we've been told and I remember hearing this back in the nineties, you know, that you spray the roundup and you can spray the roundup around your your fruit trees and all that. Once it hits the soil, it literally disintegrates and degrades into the environment, you know, goes away. But what we've found since then is that that is not the case. It does have a persisting sort of characteristic. Not only that, we are starting to see some of the health effects of that. And so one of the more sort of in-your-face kinds of manifestations that we've two years ago, you know, all these lawsuits against Monsanto before it merged with Bayer. So Bayer inherited all this stuff, you know, So and these were people who are literally working directly with, you know, the groundskeepers, you know, who are having to spray this stuff, you know, And so we're being exposed more and so had issues with. Well, so it's a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, you know, And now there's a whole row of people lined up, you know, doing lawsuits. And Bayer is trying to has taken some steps to try and sort of do a class action settlement for like $10 Billion to make this go away.
Amber Warren, PA-C: So no one wants to.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Face this, hopefully. Right. But are they doing anything about the roundup? No. So some of the more difficult folks to actually engage in this functional conversation are our farm families who are caught in the middle of this this. All right. So this is their livelihood. And to convince them that this is an issue is very difficult. And so on. My I created a model know that's this pyramid and that basic foundational layer that is a must do includes things like, okay, you've got to eat GMO free, because in pediatrics, it's not we're not dealing with the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, right? You know, glyphosate also binds minerals. It's a key. Later, it has a patent for chelation. It's an antibiotic. It has a patent as an antibiotic 15 years ago. So what are the implications of that? Well, if I'm on a maintenance antibiotic day in and day out on a low dose, what do I expect will happen to my. Resident. Flora. Well, it's going to be very different.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Got got microbiome.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Got microflora. Microbiome. And so a lot of the last 15, 20 years at places like Stanford and Washington University in St Louis and Harvard and University of California, San Diego and San Francisco, all these places are doing this microbiome research and are coming up with. Absolutely. Earth shattering findings that that what we have here actually affects the rest of us dramatically. So I believe. That since 1995 and even slightly before that, because I think they were using some of this spray before it became, you know, wholesale approved by Congress, that that we are so when we measure, you know, we do lots of labs and kids, when we measure labs, I'm finding lots of deficiencies and zinc lots of deficiencies in magnesium. We find lots of imbalances in gut flora. And when I see that, I look then at the past history on my flow sheet and I say, All right, how much antibiotic exposure has this youngster had when? So if the family's already on board with this GMO free, organic sort of a lifestyle, when did that happen? In other words, if it's only been in the last year or two, I mean, there's a whole history back there that with lots of antimicrobial exposure.
Amber Warren, PA-C: That's not just the child.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Mom. So family. Yes. Yes. And so. Yeah. If it happens to be a young kid, you know that the. Fetal milieu in which that baby was growing was bathed in some of this chemical stuff, you know, and glyphosate is not the only thing. You know, I mean, there's all kinds of stuff. You know, the of the plastics and heavy metals, you know, the water. You know, I don't know if you remember two years ago, is it two years now? Two and a half years ago, there is this study that was done in our Boise school district just testing water for lead.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Yes.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: And I was absolutely flabbergasted. There were certain spigots that were 100 times the upper EPA limit, you know? Yeah. And I just my heart sank. You know, these are kids. These are kids. That's lead. We know that. What lead does to a brain, you know, you literally lose 5 to 10 IQ points, you know, over over a short period of time, you know, during your developing years, you know. So if a mom has this stuff on board, you know, I always say, you know, that fetus serves as a dumping ground for maternal toxins. Right.
Amber Warren, PA-C: People don't realize.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: And so one of the key sort of pushes that I have now in functional pediatrics is let's start way back before this. This kid was even born. Mom needs to take care of her issues before she thinks about even getting pregnant. So I sent him to to Jess, you know, say, all right, you need to go fix your issues. You know, our women's detox women's health team. Let's start.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Oh, man. Prior to conception. Oh, baby. Then we'll.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Absolutely.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Make differences.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes, Yes. So I think that's where the biggest the biggest difference is going to be in pediatrics is addressing issues with moms. Because you know what? We're into the what, second, third, fourth generation now of all this toxicity. Yes. You know, and so so that's GMO. Well, so you can be GMO free and not organic. Right? Right. Organic is the next step. Well, a lot of folks will say, well, you know, that's just way too expensive so far beyond our budget, you know? Well, okay, stick with the dirty dozen. Yeah. You know, you can start there clean.
Amber Warren, PA-C: 15.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Clean 15. Yeah, dirty. Avoid the dirty dozen. Yeah. And so because they're you're dealing with so many other kinds of chemicals now, can you get away from glyphosate? No, it's pervasive, you know, I mean, I tested, I tested myself actually. Now I was about 10% of the prevailing population, which says that, yes, you can really drop it pretty dramatically. Right. But you can't get rid of it. And so now this far down the road, in my functional thinking, I'm thinking that it. It's not a bad idea for families in general annually to do a detox on themselves.
Amber Warren, PA-C: So what's your approach to detoxification in these families?
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: So detoxification is been very difficult topic in pediatrics and the reason is everybody does want to touch it. Nobody wants to touch that. Every conference that I've been to nationally, you know, I'll raise my hand. Okay. So what is your you know, we've talked about adults here. What is your recommendation to kids? Yeah. Mum, you know they will not touch that. And so we've had to kind of plow our own road on that, you know. And so gentle is the name of the game, gentle and slow. And the reason is that you can do more damage than more harm than good if you go too aggressive, you know. And so you know that that brains that have autism, brains that have ADHD brains have huge anxiety. You know, they're they're toxic, you know, lots of aluminum on board from from injections that we give, you know, and by the way, the injectable aluminum that is inflammatory, much worse than any aluminum that you take by mouth, because that tends to be filtered out, you know, 99% of it. So. So we put them on on binders, you know. Traditionally in Madison, we have binders. You know, you go to an ER with an acetaminophen overdose, you get put on charcoal. Right? Right. You know, because we know forever those binds, those bind very effectively.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: In fact, if you use them too long and this is one of the problems impedes is so if we put a kid on charcoal for three months. What makes me think that I'm not going to also pull all the good stuff out along with the bad, you see. So, you know. How do we how do we step around that? You know? And so we've been using things like Volvic and MC and things like that that are a little bit more selective. But then when you get into mold, toxins and things like that, you have to be a little bit more broad. And so then what you do is you have to pulse it, you know, and you say, All right, we're going to put you on something that has charcoal and something has zeolites in it and something that has full mix and the mix and stuff like that, you know, support your detoxification pathways, especially if we already know from your genetics that you're weak in that area. And by the way, if your kid is constipated, we need to fix that now because it's, you know, any amount of detox that we do is going to just simply recirculate, you know, and probably make them sicker.
Amber Warren, PA-C: And is that approach working?
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: And that approach seems to be working. Yeah. Good. You know, what's interesting is we'll have some of these kids who acutely come in with with what looks like a panda or pandas sort of a situation, you know, with with twitches and and abnormal neurological movements and, you know, that's brain inflammation, you know, or fresh onset seizures, you know, And so we'll put them on on some of this this detox. And I've seen some very dramatic results. You know, within two weeks, this stuff just simply goes away. Wow. And here's another very interesting twist. When we when we take a kid like that and we put them on, say, gluten, dairy, soy free diet, which is the inflammatory proteins. Right. And the sugars and the whole family decides to do that together, then I'll hear things like, Oh, yeah, we did that for for a month or two. And yeah, Dad's headaches went away and, you know, Susie quit wetting the bed and we're all sleeping. It's just crazy. Yeah, it's just craziness, you know? And it basically illustrates how broadly affected our food supply. Is to our health. To. To so many different things in our health, you know. And so to me, it's a no brainer. You know, a lot of our medications that we use are maybe 30%, 40% effective, you know, but when you have something that's like a gluten, dairy, soy free diet that is like 50 to 70% effective in most things that you do, it's a no brainer to. To actually do that on all these kids with chronic issues. You say, Yeah. And so, yes, I will put them on a gluten, dairy free diet, but they have to be doing that first layer. You know, the organic GMO free grass fed and the grass fed is kind of a natural follow through, you know, if the organic GMO free. Because if you have a lot fed cow that's being fed GMO corn, you know, you're not helping the situation.
Amber Warren, PA-C: You know, just what you eat are what your food eats.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes. And then you have the kids who just can't sit still and they're twitchy and they're hyper and they can't focus on anything, you know? And so, yes, I know that there's some genetics going on, but I also know when I look over their little health history, my timeline, that this kid is eating a standard American diet, very highly processed. So processed food stays cheap, you know, because it's production line, just like our cars. Yeah, we can we can afford a lot of our food now. So, you know, I tell parents who worry about the cost, you know, 50 years ago, I think more like 15 to 20% of our family budget went to food. Now it's about 1 to 2%. Yeah, well, that's because it's it's very highly processed. Well, in order to sell processed food, you better flavor it. Otherwise nobody would buy it.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Right. And market to children and then you.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: That's right. Yeah. Because kids, you know, tend to tend to pull on mom's, you know, skirt string. Yeah. And so you know this so so how do they flavor it? The MSG is probably one of the biggest flavoring agents and messages. Monosodium glutamate. Glutamate is an neuro toxin, right. And so you have a kid, the brain that's already hyperactive, and then you introduce very large amounts of this glutamate and you have a recipe for disaster. You know, how about like Chinese restaurant, Chinese restaurant syndrome on steroids, you know? And so where did you ask?
Amber Warren, PA-C: Food dyes.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Food, Same. Yeah. All this stuff. Absolutely. Yeah. Especially the ADHD kid, you know, Feingold, you know, did a lot of work back 40 years ago, you know, on food dyes. And when you take it seriously, it does help a lot. You know, it depends on your detox pathways. A lot of the genetics then becomes involved as to whether things work or not. Yeah. When you look at the autism research institutes has a sheet. For a variety. They rate a variety of different interventions for things, for neurotic issues, you know, ADHD, autism, that sort of thing. And they rate diet, you know, food supplements, medications, and then parents rate what has been the most effective in helping their kids. Diet is always like 30 plus medications down to around one and sometimes minus one because of the side effect issues.
Amber Warren, PA-C: So, yeah, what yes, I think what we're also not addressing, we as just a medical arena in general is is the toxins, potentially GMOs, fillers in the pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah. So it's like you're trying to fix a problem, but then you're just impacting that total tox burden in that child or that MMR vaccine.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Is has glyphosate in it?
Amber Warren, PA-C: Does it really?
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Crazy. Yeah.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Oh you know, we're injecting a direct, you know. Yeah. And then so then I say okay and then I touch upon a very, very sensitive button and I say, You know what? You. Need to limit your kids screen time to an hour a day.
Amber Warren, PA-C: That's a whole nother.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: That's a whole huge thing. But that's part of that that must do list. You see, it's on there.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Not just the blue light, which I know you talk about a lot, but it's also the EMF.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: It's the EMF, it's the wi fi router that, you know, you know, and I tell parents you need to go back to the old days, like five years ago when we used to plug in the Ethernet cable to our devices. You know, that's ancient technology.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Now you see, we almost can't even do it.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Sometimes you almost.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Can't do it.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: That's right. That's right. And so so they're just like the farmers, you know, with the glyphosate, you know, it's the it guys, it's it's dads, you know, who have a really hard time wrapping their brain around that, you know. And so I give them data from Martin Paul, for example, you know, PhD up in Washington State University, you know, who's done a lot of the work on what they call the voltage sensitive calcium channels in the brain that open up, you know, the slightest provocation by voltage from the outside that allow calcium to pour in and make these brains absolutely crazy.
Amber Warren, PA-C: I love watching you. I've seen you on the exam table. On the exam table. Paper draw.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Draw images of that to teach parents or draw the methylation cycle or detox impairment because we have to make it real for the parents. Well, see, what's going has to be.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Real for my brain first.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Right. Okay, you two. But you also really help us as moms visualize what's going on in their little body.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yeah. And so when I, you know, I try and make it real for them because I will tell you that if they do not take care of the EMF stuff. Well, here's what Kinkade says. Up in Seattle, he says, If you don't take care of this, I can't generally get you better.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah, there are some what we call non-negotiables.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: It's huge. And then so the blue light is is a separate issue affects the melatonin, we think. Well, you know, I can use blue blockers and all that kind of stuff. But you know, the reality is that that melatonin that we're suppressing so much actually is one of the is one of our antioxidant, one of our massive antioxidants in the mitochondria that that counters some of that oxidative stress that we've got day in and day out. And without having enough of that, you can't get a kid better because a lot of these kids have these these mutations, we call them snips, single nucleotide polymorphisms that don't allow them, for example, to, to burn off their or neutralize their superoxide dismutase, which is one of the sort of the the byproducts of oxidative metabolism, the mitochondria. Right. Yeah. If we had time we could geek on that a little bit.
Amber Warren, PA-C: But I'm going to make you come back. We'll have to do another episode or we can geek out on mitochondrial health. Yeah, that's a really big deal. That's huge. All of our patients.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Absolutely.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Huge. I know you're really focused on that.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: So then then once they're doing that and I will tell them, you know, a lot of people will say, well, you know, just just tell me what what supplements to use. Right. They want to go to the middle or the top of the pyramid. And I say, well, so imagine, if you will, and I'll tell this to a to a 14 year old, Imagine mama tells you to go water this tree outside, you know, springtime when you start watering. So it give you a bucket and you go outside and you stand there with a hose and you start daydreaming, you know, and pretty soon you're back expecting this thing to be overflowing and there's no water coming over the top. And you look down inside and there's no water in the bucket. And you look down further and you realize it's full of holes in the bottom. You're never going to fill the bucket unless you plug the holes. So the first layers are those holes that need to be plugged. You can throw out supplements till you're blue in the face. You're basically literally, it is true what the traditional docs say. You're making expensive urine, right? If you don't fix the.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Trading polypharmacy that our traditional care does for poly supplementation. Yes. And it's is that really root.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Cosmetics and functional medicine has been, you know, kind of criticized for that sometimes. You know, we have.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Yeah.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: So if a family is wanting just a quick fix with vitamins, I either I have to spend more time convincing them or they're in the wrong place because they're using that same mutation to fix me now so I can go back the way I was living before I got sick. That's not going to.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Work, you know, for now.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yeah, because I can fix that temporarily. But you're going to be back with the same issues, you know, or worse.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Dr. Bruce, I. We could sit here for 6 hours. I'm craving more information from you, just as one of your colleagues and as a mom. And I know our listeners are as well. I always end my interviews with if if you had to mention one idea or one recommendation that moves the needle the most for your patient population, what would it be? I feel like you just answered that in the last.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Yes, I kind of sort of poked ahead a little bit there. My my, my encouragement for young parents is to. Take care of your own health issues before you even think about getting pregnant. Because what? The condition of your health before pregnancy, before you can before conception and during your pregnancy has a massive influence on what happens with your with your kid. It is well known that inflammation of any kind, including caused that caused by emotional stress, emotional trauma, toxic stress, toxic trauma infection, infectious trauma during pregnancy is a very high risk for developing autism and neurodevelopmental issues as a child. Fix your issues before you think about having bringing kids into the world, you know, once they're here. So here's a little illustration that I used to use. I don't use it much anymore because I'm doing my consults on online now. And so but imagine your life is like a why I say, you know, you're walking along. Something happens at some point to veer you off in the direction of your straight walk up in one direction. And usually it's some, I don't know, infection or it's some trauma or something happens. You can pick it up on a lab, you can pick it up on symptoms or whatever. The sooner you recognize what's happening and fix the triggers and. And move back to the straight line or to the other fork in the Y. The shorter the distance is, the farther you let that go. The farther that distance is between the two legs and the longer it takes if you can even get there, you see. And so the closest point to that initial event is before you even get Before you.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Even before you. Yeah.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: You know, before you even conceive. So if you can go way, way back, know a lot of this stuff that we're seeing will go away. Now, once you're here, then I would say you've got to be doing that first line. You know, you've got to be watching what the kids are doing online. How much, how much blue light exposure, how much EMF exposure. You've got to be watching what they're eating. You've got to be filtering your water. The absolute basic, basic, basic things, you know, that are they're so different than they were 30, 35 years ago. You know, I say we need to go back to living the way we were living pre 1990.
Amber Warren, PA-C: For so.
Dr. Mario Brus, MD: Reasons with with the I mean, we can learn how to use current technology safely. You know, I'm not going to say because you can be a road statistic to not drive your car. I will say you need to wear your seatbelt, obey the traffic lights and don't drive drunk. You know. I'm not saying you get rid of your devices. I'm saying hardwire them, You know, limit the time.
Amber Warren, PA-C: Be aware. Be aware. Yeah. It's such good advice. Thank you so much, Dr. Bruce, for your time. We're excited to have you on. Thank you for listening to the Functional Medicine Foundations podcast. For more information on topics covered today, programs offered at FMF and the highest quality of supplements and more. Go to Fun Med Foundations dot com.