Now here’s today’s host, Dr Monica Buerger.
Hello everybody, and welcome to another ChiroSecure [crosstalk 00:01:00]
Now here’s today’s host, Dr. Monica Buerger.
I’m your host doctor Monica Buerger and I am beyond ecstatic today to have one of the ultimate ultimates in our profession hanging out together. I don’t even know where to start with this introduction and I’d been chomping at the bit for months on this. So Dr. Monique Andrews, also known as the infamous Dr. Mo is here with us today. Thank you so much. I know you’ve got a crazy schedule, but thanks for taking the time to hang out. I truly appreciate it.
I’m excited to be here with you today, Monica. I’m a big fan, so that’s real for me.
It’s a Mo in a Mo show. So a little bit about doctor Mo. She has an incredible record for our profession. I was so impressed reading part of your bio, and upon graduation from Palmer West, she was a recipient of the Presidents Citation of Service Award to The Chiropractic Profession. And for those of you that don’t understand, this is a lifetime achievement award that Doctor Mo was honored with upon graduation from Chiropractic College. That is phenomenal. Thank you for what, the service you’ve done that or that you earned that. That’s, that’s amazing. Doctor Mo is a chiropractor and has a master’s in neuroscience. She’s currently the chair of clinical sciences?
Basic Science at Life West. She’s had two, three prestigious awards offered to her from Life West. One was in 2015 as the instructor of the year and in 2017 … 16 and 17 as administrator of the year. She has done research in neuroimmunology and behavioral, neurobiology of behavior.
The list goes on and on. She is in the last couple of years really dedicated to neural development disorders and that’s what we’re going to geek out about today. She’s on the circuit lecturing at many amazing events. One of them is autism, one that’s coming up next weekend, I believe, and one of them … Yeah, and one of them is something that’s near and dear to my heart. The kids summit. This year, it’s going to be in Sydney in September. And I’ve been privileged to be on that circuit, three out of their four events. And for me, this is something so spectacular because it is basically a fundraiser. All proceeds go to chiropractic research. So she’s going to be there in September and at New Zealand Chiropractic College for their lyceum, and the list goes on and on. But the world is blessed to have you and I’m blessed to have you on the show. So welcome.
Thank you so much from some police to be here with you today.
So let’s do this. Is there anything I need to add to that, your what you’ve accomplished in this world so far?
No, The only a addition I would make is that I went to Palmer Davenport, not Palmer West. You know we kind of get [inaudible 00:04:24] about those things. So just a Palmer Davenport.
Yeah, no, I think actions speak louder than words. So maybe we can just talk about some fun and cool things in neural development.
Absolutely. So in your experience, what are some of the roadblocks that you feel are causing some hampers and on in our kiddos with neurodevelopmental struggles?
Yeah. So we can borrow right from our chiropractic philosophy when this comes, and we think about, we go all the way back to like the three T’s. So any experience that a child has, whether it’s a physical trauma that could be internal toxins, externals toxins, maternal stress, this creates discord in neural development, right?
I’m not someone who really buys into the disease model. I think that something like autism is a biological process and it is a process that maybe starts because there’s some sort of insult that the fragile new brain can’t accommodate too. And what is the definition of health but our ability to adapt to an ever changing environment. And then it’s just a matter of how do those cells respond to that? What are the antecedents and triggers that create an unsatisfactory environment for development?
And I’m totally in with you on that whole game. And I’ve lately added another T, technology. We know that that is … it’s changing neural development and brain development. So that’s just another T that we have to add to the load of …
And we have no idea what’s happening with technology yet. I think we won’t for a long time. I was reading some information the other day about what happens with the dopaminergic reward systems with technology and things like social media and that’s pretty scary actually.
It’s very scary. And we know that the dopamine factor is going to deal so much with their frontal lobe. When these individuals, kiddos go into what we call the frontal lobe flip, then you’re stuck in that limbic drive and we see a whole neural cascade, neurophysiological cascade right there. So I’m with you on that.
In your research and reading, I know you like to nerd out a lot like I do and the many others that are on the forefront of this work. What have you seen, read, heard, in regards to any specific brain regions? I think, personally, I know we used to get into certain specific brain regions, but it’s such a complex, I mean they all have to talk to each other, what’s your take on that?
Yeah. I think, you know, if we go all the way back to, as the brain starts to develop and how it develops, it goes through a series of stages, right? From neurogenesis, migration, maturation, differentiation, etc. Two of these processes are significantly disrupted, it appears, when the brain becomes really inflamed. And I think probably the prevailing theory in autism right now is that what happens with the developmental dysfunction is a response to inflammation in the brain.
And so if I can just briefly summarize for our viewers, what we think is happening is that when there’s some sort of insult, whether that be a physical insult, an emotional insult, a toxic insult, as we’ve been saying, technological insult, what happens is neurons get really excited. And when neurons get really excited, they produce a lot of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate and not enough of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, which is GABA, and those are the two main excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain.
And what happens when that happens is that microglia get overwhelmed and they can’t do their job. Now two really important things that glial cells do, one is migration. And what we see with autistic kids is a massive problem with migration, right? So when neurons are born, they don’t just magically show up in the areas they’re supposed to, they have to migrate. And this is propagated via a radial glial cells. So what we see with autism is that cells don’t migrate properly. And we have areas that are close together that there’s a lot of agitation, but they don’t get too distant areas. And if we have time today, we can talk a little about polyvagal theory in how the [crosstalk 00:08:56] to the reward center.
So that’s one problem is migration. And that they do see that in the brains of autistics, that migration is a massive problem. And the other stage of development that gets severely disrupted with autistics is a synaptic pruning and apoptosis. So in actuality, we’re born with way many more … Or our brain develops originally with way many more neurons than we ultimately end up keeping. And somewhere between 40 to 75 get actually killed off as a normal process. In autistics, it looks like that’s not happening. And sometimes you see that’s why their brains are actually bigger. It goes to show that size doesn’t matter, right, because they have massive dysfunction.
Exactly. And those microglia, what’s so interesting is the microglia are responsible as part of our immune cells of the CNS and responsible for the pruning. So those microglia are extremely important in this concept.
Yeah. The microglia, those are the stars of the show right now. And microglia sort of act like … They’re probably the primary immune cell in the brain. It’s funny because until a year ago we pretended like the brain didn’t have any immune system, but they work a lot like macrophages. And so their job is to scavenge and take cells away. And when they’re under-functioning, then we just get an overproduction of neurons that are disconnected. WEll that creates a very disconnected individual, right?
Absolutely. Have you seen the one study where they looked the microglia in the cerebellum with autistic kids?
Well, I’m not sure which study you’re talking about, but the two areas that they’ve been mainly focused on where they see the mass of disruption, are cerebral cortex and cerebellum. And that’s where most of the work that I’ve seen.
Go ahead. Sorry for that interruption. But it’s fascinating to see. I did this lecture for some docs I mentor yesterday, but talked basically about everything that you’re talking about, but we look at the cerebellum putting the brakes on the frontal cortex. If both of those are skewed and the purkinje fibers in the cerebellum are responsible for the GABA production.
And so we know some things that specifically target those purkinje fibers, like gluten and aluminum. So this lends itself to exactly the lecture that I had just the other day.
Yeah. Like you can’t quiet the brain, right?
And so when we have so much of this glutamate, it’s really, it’s like there’s a storm that’s happening and then what happens is we’re not able to connect those regions that are supposed to be connected. And so this migratory problem that shows up, originally, they believed that migration stopped at birth. And now what they know is that migration actually continues for about two years. So it’s that time that’s so critical, right? For there to not be any toxicological insult, as little traumas possible, and we know that there are external factors that often get injected or otherwise that can create dysfunction in the developing brain.
Absolutely. So on that note, is there a little pearl that you give to your students? I know your students absolutely adore you and you’re like the go-to for many things, especially at Life West, a pearl that you would give them for those first couple of years of life to look at, to a red flag. Anything for docs out there that are working in the peds population?
Yeah, I think it’s really important, actually, to get adequate training. And to not shy away from working with really challenged kids, but also to know what your limitations are. And there’s some people out there running great programs and to learn, maybe get certified through different programs and make sure that if you’re gonna work with challenged populations that you’ve done the training to be able to do that. And I’m a big proponent of Chiropractic, but it’s also not the only thing these kids need.
Yeah. Cause there’s so many things we do have to consider these days. And that’s great advice because we’re seeing, those of us in the trenches and in practice, we’re seeing those little fiddle parts come in at a much a higher level of toxicity with a lot more neurodevelopmental challenges. I think being able to pick out some of those red flags and saying, “Okay, is that within my [inaudible 00:13:33] that I feel comfortable working with or do I need to work with somebody else?” So thank you for that. Because I think that’s really part of my mission, is educating people to feel comfortable, or it’s okay if you don’t. But to recognize that and work with somebody that does feel comfortable to follow up on what might be going on.
Yeah. And to create great interprofessional networks. When you look at the detox problem that we have a lot of with a lot of autistic kids. I mean a lot of this is regulated … it’s not like if something … we’re not going to get into a conversation with about vaccines obviously, but if vaccines caused autism, than every kid that had it would have autism. And there are many other triggers and antecedents that go together that, you know, create that confluence of neurodevelopmental dysfunction. And so, you know, what are the other issues that are involved there? And detox, a diminished detox capacity is massive in these kids.
It’s huge. With your background in basically the neurobiology of emotion, of fear, because I love this area and I like looking at pre- preconception care, because the health of the mom and dad, the parents, is so critical, especially the health of the mom prior to pregnancy and especially during pregnancy. Do you have a pearl of wisdom there in regards to … I’m just shooting this out your way, but I want to pick your brain.
Yeah. And so I think that the most critical thing we can arm people with his knowledge. And we now have research looking at the impact of maternal stress on fetal neurological development. So you look at something, I read a study a while ago that they did FMRI in utero, and looking at neonatal migration patterns, and that moms that have high level of stress actually show, they’re like three to four times as likely to birth autistic, ultimately autistic children, which is incredible.
And so you can see very early on the impact. There’s a Canadian psychiatrist that I love reading his name, his [Gavermate, 00:15:44], and he talks about how in psychiatry they talk about mental illness and mental disease and he’s like, it’s not really a disease, it ends up becoming a biological fact of life for these kids. But it starts predominantly from stress and emotional trauma that happens to children. That can happen in the womb that can happen postnatal, also. But if you have a very stressed out mom or dad or that’s the environment, even like you said, preconception, it’s gonna have an incredible impact on what’s happening in those people’s brains and those people’s bodies. And yeah, we can’t negate the impact of maternal and paternal biology on ultimate neural development.
You do a lot with mindfulness and chiropractic. So give me your take on that as far as some tips that maybe you can give patients. Because I think it’s really important that we try to help moms, especially during pregnancy, be as mindful as possible, to bring that stress load down. What do you got there?
So here’s the deal, and that is, we believe what we think. This is a fatal error. Maybe not fatal, but it leads to a lot of suffering. And thoughts, we have this running narrative that’s happening in our brain all the time. And I think probably the most critical thing that we can teach people is you can … Believing what you think is optional, and if you can train people to be mindful, and there’s programs now, I’m actually working on developing a program of mindfulness that people can do to create a more mindful life. But if you can allow people the opportunity to understand that feelings that they have, these are things that we can attend to or not and that we can change our relationship with them just by being aware of it. But that takes focused, intense practice.
It’s something, though, that we can do with as little as 10 minutes a day and really is a shift. I think like anything, if you make recommendations to patients, and this is good for any doctor or student, we have to make it accessible. So give them some tools. If you’re going to say, “Go meditate every day.” Well that’s great. That sounds like a really hard thing for most people to do. They think that means they have to sit in the corner and try and levitate, not thinking about anything. That’s not what meditation is. But Insight Timer is a great app, a free app that’s out there that has guided meditations, and just, you know, give them a basic guidelines. Start with five to 10 minutes a day, and then just be mindful of things that come and go. And I’m just really focused on the fact or the idea that we’re not tied to our thoughts. We don’t have to believe them. So you can really cherry pick. This is a happy thought. This makes me feel good. I’m going to take that. This is not good and I’m just going to leave that because I don’t have to buy into it.
Absolutely. That was beautiful, by the way. Beautiful. And I love the way you said our thoughts can be optional. That’s a good one. That we have that choice and that it’s optional. Beautiful, beautiful.
What’s cool about meditation, and this is, I talk about this when because I do a whole consciousness and chiropractic talk, is those same areas that they have now shown that are activated with meditation are the same ones that we’re showing impact with chiropractic.
Are we changing consciousness with chiropractic? Sure. Why not?
Absolutely. Absolutely. And that leads us to the prefrontal cortex. And what we do see, what the research is validating for us, is that we have an effect on that prefrontal cortex. And we’ve got a few out there, too, in regards to the cerebellum and I like to call it the three ring circus, the cerebellum, the frontal lobe and the limbic system. I love the three brains and they all, they all do tie together, especially in the paradigm with our neural development. Our sensory kiddos are, our autistic Kiddos. So give me your go on that one.
Yeah, I think that with Chiropractic, we are impacting the prefrontal cortex. We can do something like, I like to call it the amygdala hijack, where … Because really the amygdala creates that emotional awareness, emotional response. Then if we can use our thoughts to actually dampen that out, right? So if we are upregulating the prefrontal cortex with chiropractic adjustment and meditation and those other things, then we can, again, mindfully suppress what’s happening with the amygdala, if we’re trained to do so. But what does that look like in the neuro developmentally challenged brain? So Stephen Porges, if we just can to take a couple of minutes to talk about polyvagal theory, the polyvagal theory book, which is a very dense volume to try and read. But if you can get through it, there’s some great pearls in there. There’s a whole chapter on autism.
And so he developed this idea that the autonomic nervous system is not just sympathetic comparison with that, but there’s a third branch, which is the social engagement system. And the social engagement system, this part of the vagous nerve enervates face, eyes, ears, heart and lungs, right? And so he says it’s hierarchical and that we actually start with social engagement. But we know that you know autistic kids, for example, that they have problems with flat affect, with sensitivity to sound, with not wanting to make eye contact, and the idea there is that maybe they have really low vagal tone and that they can’t get that social engagement system up and firing to the level that most of the rest of us do. And it’s why that we don’t want … We don’t even want to try to engage using our social engagement system with these kids, because we need to try and meet them where they’re at. Exactly. They had their social engagement system is not functioning so we can’t try and approach them that way.
Right, right. And I always say, I like to say a person’s behavior, especially a child’s behavior, that outward behavior, is essentially a window into their neurological integrity. What are they telling you by the way they express themselves? And so that when that frontal lobe is offlined, they can’t do that social engagement. They are in what I call limbic lock and load mode and they’re hightailing it for the hills. So on that note, working with the students at college, what are some pearls you give them in regards to chiropractic and getting these different areas of the brain online?
Yes. So number one, highlight the research. I mean the [inaudible 00:22:36] research is incredible and all the time they’re always like, “What’s the latest stuff?” And we actually have a chiropractic science working group I work with a group of students every week and we talk about the latest research. And the other thing is that you have to know your anatomy and physiology. So for example, we’re just talking about polyvagal theory and there’ve been a lot of studies. They’ve been using vagal stimulation in the medical community for about 20 years, right?
To treat things like depression, intractable epilepsy, with quite a lot of success. These to do that very invasively, like they actually implanted and vagal stimulator. Well now they do transcutaneous stimulation, [inaudible 00:23:14], also here. So in teaching them the anatomy and physiology, if you actually look at the course of where the vagous nerve runs, it leaves that juggler foramen inside the carotid sheath.
So now we have chiropractic studies that show that if you put pressure on the carotid sheath, you actually disrupt internal jugular blood flow. Now, well if the vagous nerve is in there, too, isn’t it possible that with subluxation, you’re interrupting vagal nerve, right? So if you look at the core, so it goes through that carotid sheath, but if you pull up, you know, Gray’s Anatomy and look at where is the vegous nerve, it literally runs right in front of the TP of atlas. Or if were subluxated, is it going to impact function? Do we have that data clearly elucidated yet? No. Can we make some extrapolations? Yeah. I’m the queen of extrapolation. I’m making that extrapolation. If you’re subluxated, you’re probably interrupting vagal tone. And iv vagal tone is disrupted, this leads to some of the symptoms that we see in autistics.
Absolutely, absolutely. And that heart rate variability is one of the measures we use in our profession. And we know that that really develops that in the second trimester, third trimester in utero. And without having good vagal tone, we’re going to be brought into this world already compromised. So even pregnancy care is, in my book, is extremely important.
Oh, absolutely. I don’t know why [inaudible 00:24:45] David Fletcher and Amy Hoss are doing amazing work with heart rate variability, but that also has been some … There’s thousands of articles and the medical community has already accepted heart rate variability. We should be jumping full … I mean there should be HRV in every chiropractic office. This is our way to show the impact that we’re having on autonomic nervous system. It’s way sexier conversation then okay, your back pain is getting better. For sure.
Yeah. You’re speaking my … Because what we really need to do is I think we need to be on the forefront of this whole wellness paradigm. We have … I’m preaching to the choir, I know, but to those of you out there listening, we have, we have the clinical findings. We see this in our offices every day. But let’s put the pieces together. Bring the research from other paradigms, connect the dots like you do, like I do, like others do, and start talking in that matter to the public and raising the awareness of exactly what we do. Brain-based chiropractic, essentially.
Yes, and for me that’s redundant, right? Because that’s the story I love to tell and it’s the story that I tell students to focus on. I teach a number of different classes here on campus, but one of them is patient education, which is the class in communication. I said, “Look, if you, if we really are doctors of the nervous system, then focus there.” We now know through some incredible research that when you adjust somebody, you’re impacting brain function. Well, what controls the body? What controls every cell, organ and tissue? Your brain. And you ask anybody that and almost anybody will know it. And now we know that when you adjust somebody, you’re impacting the brain. So let, let’s focus there. And maybe less on the back and neck pain and more on optimizing this vast richness that we call life.
Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s what we need. That’s why you’re being spread so thin because you’re amazing at the way you do articulate this and the way you communicate it, but really everybody needs to hear your message and the way you communicate it. So last minute pearl or two that you want to throw out to the world? I know there’s a lot.
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of tendency in chiropractic to try and want to run in a lot of different directions. I think there’s different roles for lots of us and I think one of the most important things that we can do is find out what’s our individual truth, what’s our authentic truth as a practitioner, as a chiropractor, as a clinician, and follow that. There’s this great quote that, of course, the exact quotes escaping my mind right now, but the idea that a flower doesn’t look to the flowers next to it to bloom, it just blooms perfectly by itself. And I think if practitioners could just start on this journey with the idea that you don’t graduate from chiropractic school as a master. And in fact this is a process that you continue throughout life and that we need to continue to learn and grow and find mentors and do everything we can to offer this, I think, sacred service that we have as chiropractors. That it can do so much and to not limit it to musculoskeletal complaints.
Oh, beautiful. Beautiful. Can you tell us a little bit, you and your partner and you’re good friend. The names I can’t get, but you guys are starting a retreat?
Retreat in Costa Rica. So my wife, Dr. Tamir [Macintire 00:28:12] and doctor Lauren Koedyk from Nikau chiropractic. She’s done a number of retreats and so we’re doing a collaboration with her to do a women’s only, sort of empowerment retreat coming up in Costa Rica in June. And the idea is really to lift women up.
The idea that greatness comes from service and that the greatest gift that you can give is the gift of service. And if we can find a way to lift women up and to just provide an opportunity for them to learn things like meditation, to learn different things, different tools that they can use to apply to become stronger in their own power. That’s the purpose of the retreat. And this is something that Dr. Lauren Koedyk does. She does women’s adjusting seminars. And really, that’s one piece of what she does, but something else she does is really gives the women this gift of personal empowerment. And that’s really the focus of our retreat.
And this is open to chiropractors?
Open to chiropractors.
Okay. And they can find information about this where?
If they go to nikauchiropractic.com/retreats.
Yeah. And your website is drmoniqueandrews.com?
And they can also find you through Life West? Or that website’s the best place for them to get ahold of you?
Yeah, my website, which is drmoniqueandrews.com, is the easiest way to get in touch with me.
Awesome. And if people want to hear you speak, they can contact you through that website as well?
Yeah. All my events are listed on there. Yeah.
Awesome. Awesome. Well good. I know you, we could be here for hours, but I appreciate you taking the time. I know you had to rearrange your schedule for this, but it was so well worth it. And the knowledge you have to share and, and you know what? The heart you have to share. It’s amazing when you combine knowledge with heart and what can happen.
I taught that class the other day and like I got back last week from somewhere with a group of amazing doctors and, and I saw this quote and I think this is so pertinent and it reminds me of you, actually. Singly, we can make a difference, but together we can make change. And I just had to throw that in now because you’ve got that heart and you’ve got that wanting to make the change and that’s very unique.
Ah, thanks so much Monica.
Thanks for hanging out. Well we’ll have to do this again. How about about apart two sometime?
It sound like a deal?
Awesome. And for all of you out there, thanks for joining in. The first Thursday of June, we have a special guest, Dr. Eric [inaudible 00:31:05], I think. I hope we got that name right. And next Thursday, Dr. Nicole Lindsey has an amazing show empowering women. So make sure you join in. And I want to thank ChiroSecure for everything they have put forth for us to bring these special shows, to bring you the information, bring you cutting-edge things. Monique Andrews is on the leading edge in our profession, and to have her and other guests like her available to you, the public, is really something unique and I want to thank ChiroSecure for that. So until next month, I’m signing out and you guys go keep changing lives and changing the future.
Today’s pediatrics show, Look to the Children, was brought to your by ChiroSecure and the winning book series I am a Loveable Me. Make sure you join us next week right here at the same time. See you next week!
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