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As a clinician interested in participating in research, it’s very exciting to see others jumping into the research conversation, too.
Today I talk to Dr. Erik Lundquist, who heads a large, integrative clinic out in Southern California. Erik recently completed a clinical pilot study looking at the use of SPMs (just 2 gelcaps per day) in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia (Dr. Lundquist reports that the bulk of these patients have underlying mold exposure or Lyme as the primary etiology for FMS).
While labs and pain scores didn’t improve markedly in the population, there was a clear, statistically significant jump in quality of life for these folks.
In fact, Dr. L suspects that the increased movement and engagement in life probably influenced the lack of drop in pain. And further, Dr. L pointed out that standard labs such as CRP were NOT elevated at baseline in the chronic mold/Lyme population.
Listen to the details, and Erik’s story. If you are wanting to participate in clinical research yourself, I’d love to hear about it, and, as always, I appreciate you listening and ask that you please rate, comment and share New Frontiers with your colleagues! ~DrKF
Fibromyalgia is a tricky disorder to treat. Patients struggle with chronic pain and fatigue, and practitioners often struggle to find effective interventions. Dr. Erik Lundquist is pioneering research into novel treatments for fibromyalgia. In a new study, he investigates the use of specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators (SPMs) for fibromyalgia patients.
Dr. Lundquist is the founder and medical director of Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine, a member of the American Holistic Medical Association, as well as the Institute for Functional Medicine.
He attended Occidental College in LA where he graduated with a BA in kinesiology and biology.
He received his medical degree from Saint Louis University School of Medicine and completed a family medicine residency at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, where he served as the chief resident.
Dr. Lundquist spent eight years in active military duty in Iraq as a battalion surgeon with the Marine Corps as well as at the naval hospital in Naples, Italy. Dr. Lundquist is board certified with the American Board of Family Medicine as well as with the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.
In this episode of New Frontiers, Dr. Lundquist talks with Dr. Fitzgerald about SPMs for fibromyalgia—and about the joys and challenges of conducting research as an individual practitioner.
- SPMs, or specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators
- The relationship between fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme and chronic mold patients
- The etiology of fibromyalgia symptoms and how it connects to an inability to eliminate toxins
- The CIRS panel (chronic inflammatory response panel)
- The potential of SPMs to help fibromyalgia patients
- How SPMs modulate the immune system and impact the body’s response to pain
- How CBD acts like antidepressant pain modulators
- The potential role of CBD in treating emotional and cognitive impairments seen in fibromyalgia
Erik Lundquist, MD is the founder and medical director of the Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine. He is a member of the American Holistic Medical Association as well as the Institute for Functional Medicine. He specializes in thyroid disorders, chronic and adrenal fatigue, women’s health, digestive disorders, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Dr. Lundquist attended Occidental College in LA, where he graduated with a BA in Kinesiology and Biology. He received his medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine and completed his Family Medicine residency at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, where he served as Chief Resident. Dr. Lundquist spent eight years in active military duty in Iraq as a battalion surgeon with the Marine Corps, as well as at the Naval Hospital in Naples, Italy. Dr. Lundquist is board certified with the American Board of Family Medicine, as well as with the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Hi everybody. Welcome to New Frontiers in Functional Medicine, where we are interviewing the best minds in functional medicine. Today is of course no exception. I so, so, so appreciate the kind words that I’m hearing from everybody, from all over the place, actually. We all came back from the mothership, from the IFM, AIC this past week in early June, and we were all refreshed and excited and raring to go, and I just heard lots of nice stuff about New Frontiers, so thank you so much. If you are compelled to do so, please leave me a review on iTunes.
All right. Today we are talking to an amazing clinician who’s decided to really dive into conducting research and so, pay attention if this is something you’re interested in your journey into functional medicine or as a clinician. If you want to start participating in pulling together evidence, we will pick this guy’s brain. So, let me tell you about him and then we’ll jump in. Dr. Erik Lundquist is founder and medical director of Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine. Where is that, Erik? Temecula?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Temecula is in southern California, about an hour north of San Diego and about an hour inland from the coast of Orange County.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Okay. All right. Great. He’s a member of the American Holistic Medical Association, as well as the Institute for Functional Medicine. He specializes in thyroid disorders, chronic and adrenal fatigue, women’s health, digestive disorders, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Dr. Lundquist attended Occidental College in LA where he graduated with a BA in kinesiology and biology. He received his medical degree from Saint Louis University School of Medicine and completed a family medicine residency at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton where he served as the chief resident. Dr. Lundquist spent eight years in active military duty in Iraq as a battalion surgeon with the Marine Corps as well as at the naval hospital in Naples, Italy. Dr. Lundquist is board certified with the American Board of Family Medicine as well as with the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.
Dr. Lundquist, welcome to New Frontiers.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. I always enjoy our conversations, so it’s fun to do this on a podcast.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, it is. I know. Yeah. Likewise, I enjoy our conversations. We’ve just been having a really nice pre-conversation, pre-podcast conversation, just kind of combing through the pitfalls of doing research in office and a little bit about Erik’s journey and we’ll just capture that as much of that as possible in this recording because Dr. Lundquist has much to offer all of us.
Also, thank you for your service. And as I was reading your bio, I’m thinking, it would just be another fabulous conversation to talk about your experience in the military and thinking about medicine there. But, we’ll return to that at another time. So, you have been, as you put it, just up to your eyeballs in doing clinical research in your office as well as authoring a chapter for Mark Houston’s textbook, his integrative cardiology textbook. So, you’ve really gone from in the trenches full-time clinician to kind of expanding your horizons. And, let’s just start to unpack this rather amazing clinical research study that you’ve done and then we’ll talk about the textbook after that and also, any advice you have for clinicians wanting to do these things. So, tell me about the study that you did.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yeah, so it was interesting. So, I’ve always kind of had some interest in doing some clinical research and I probably cut my teeth on it just a little bit when I was a resident and I learned how to do a Botox injections for migraines. And at the time, the neurologist that I was doing a rotation with who showed me how to do that, he left our navy hospital at the time and nobody was doing it. And so, I had to kind of get permission from the CEO and the department had to be able to do this, and he wrote a letter for me.
As I was looking at these individuals, I realized there wasn’t a lot of research published on the benefits of Botox for migraines. And so, it was recommended that I put together a case series of patients that we had done and present that and actually did that at the US Academy of Family Physicians for the armed services. But, I couldn’t end up doing it anywhere else because we didn’t get IRB approval. I didn’t know anything about research. I was just like, “Hey, we’ll just present what we saw.” And I thought that would be a great thing to do. That’s kind of what I really kind of cut my teeth. I realized there were a bunch more hoops you had to jump through in order to get published to get the recognition.
As you get into the trenches and you start practicing medicine and everything just starts to feel overwhelming, particularly when you go out on your own clinical practice, you’re not part of a group anymore. It had always been on the back of my mind I’d love to be able to do research because it was so fascinating to share what we had learned about Botox and migraine. And we see this all the time now as clinicians, particularly practicing functional medicine where we’re looking at using nutrition and lifestyle and then supplements, and integrating the conventional medicine tools that we have. The challenge is that there’s not a lot of good research in the clinical arena. They’ll do little pilot studies or they’ll do animal studies or some of the companies will gather a few subjects and do things, but it’s a challenge to really see what’s happening in our clinic reflective in the actual published research.
I mean, I would say, I share this all the time, if I want to know if a supplement is effective in a patient, I’m not looking at a study, I’m asking my patients and I’m actually looking to see what is actually selling off of our shelf. Right?
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: If patients come back in and buy something a second time, that means it must have done something beneficial for them the first time. And so, that’s how we get feedback, but that’s not shared, really. We don’t have a forum or a way of sharing that information in a published way that allows us to say, “Hey, you did this and you are using this particular supplement at this dosage for these patients and you had this outcome.” I mean, how great would that be if we can collectively do that within our clinics?
When I was approached with this opportunity to look at SPMs and particularly in the group of patients with fibromyalgia who struggle and suffer from pain, and looking to see if these specialized pro mediators could actually modulate their pain response and improve their quality of life. It was something that was interesting and intriguing to me.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Absolutely. So, you had the opportunity to … You work with a lot of fibromyalgia patients in your practice and you had the opportunity to research SPMs, or specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators in your fibromyalgia patients and you decided to go for it?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: I did. I felt like, because I was working with a research team, I didn’t feel like I had to initiate it all on my own. I didn’t have to get the IRB approval, the team took care of that and even from a writing standpoint, I didn’t have to write it. I just had to review it to make sure that what they were representing in the written material was reflective of what I was seeing in this study. And so, it helped me a lot to be able to perform research, which we do all the time, we just don’t publish it because we don’t have the time or the resources or the knowhow on actually how to execute that.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yes. That’s a whole separate conversation, that is an incredibly important one and I know that it’s being worked on, how clinicians can better engage in the scientific conversation and capture some of their clinical observations. So, that’s a side topic. Folks, there’s actually a journal out that is making supporting clinicians in publishing. I’ll just pop a link to that particular journal on our show notes in case you’re interested because engaging in this Erik, is incredibly important.
So, you had the support of industry looking at a population you’re familiar with and using a product that you are interested in. And so, they kind of helped with some of the heavy lifting as far as getting IRB approval and doing the actual scientific write up for you. But you were in the driver’s seat as PI, I’m assuming. Right?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yeah.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And just executing the study?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yup.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Okay.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yup.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: All right. And so, then talk about, what you guys did, what the study was and how you measured outcome and everything.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yeah. So, we looked at fibromyalgia patients and basically, we wanted to get a group of individuals that had a true fibromyalgia diagnosis and that they were not on any narcotics for pain treatment. And so, we wanted to be able to identify the influence of the SPMs on them. And interestingly enough, and it was open to men and women, but we ended up not having any men in our study, which is kind of goes to show that fibromyalgia really has a female prevalence within our society, and there’s probably some other questions and answers that we could talk about in regards to why that is.
But that’s essentially what we did. Now what we’re seeing across functional medicine is there’s an evolving, growing population within this chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia group that are emerging as chronic Lyme and chronic mold patients.
So, it was interesting that out of this group, I only had what I would call one true fibromyalgia patient, meaning that we really couldn’t find a true etiology to why she was having … Her thyroid function was okay and she didn’t have mold or Lyme, but she just had true fibromyalgia. And so, she was an interesting outlier and that I’ll talk about when we go over results.
But everybody else had either chronic Lyme or chronic mold in conjunction with the fibromyalgia. And that’s really kind of where my practice has evolved into because of the fact that there’s so few clinicians that are actually recognizing it, let alone treating it. So, a lot of my fibromyalgia patient population has emerged as this chronic Lyme/mold population.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Sure, Yep. Absolutely. What is the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, the widespread pain index? I mean, so they were presenting with the fibromyalgia symptom picture, but the underlying etiology in your opinion was likely mold and Lyme?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Correct. So, I…
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, go ahead.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yeah, so I mean, I know that there’s different opinions as to what causes fibromyalgia, what is the underlying etiology and kind of how I view it is, fibromyalgia to me is a mitochondrial problem. It’s an energy production and a toxic waste removal problem. So, the reason individuals have those muscle aches and the fatigue and the inability to sleep adequately is because their mitochondria are struggling to produce enough energy. Because when they produce it, they create the toxins and the body can’t eliminate the toxins well enough so it shuts down the factory so to speak.
So, that’s kind of how I view and treat fibromyalgia. So, these patients, we were looking at their sleep aspects and all of them met the criteria within that definition for non-restorative sleep and then all of them had that. We did the physical exam with the fibromyalgia tender points and then they all had fatigue issues and pain issues.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And their symptoms were chronic.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: And their symptoms were chronic. I mean, I think the most recent individual diagnosed with fibromyalgia was like 2014. So, everybody had some of these diagnosis. One was as far ago as 1995.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Wow. Okay. Okay. So you are focusing primarily on this fibromyalgia presentation and that’s what you were looking at in your study. Okay. What did you guys measure? What were the … Yeah, go ahead.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: So, essentially what we did is we looked at 12 weeks. Initially, we were going to look at 12 weeks of treatment and we did a two week kind of prep phase where we wanted to control for diet and lifestyle as much as possible during this study so we could really see the impact of the SPM on the questionnaires and the tender point examination. So, we did two weeks of having them track their fitness activity and their nutrition on MyFitnessPal. Then we started the treatment and we used two capsules of an SPM product consistently for three months. Before we started, we did some lab draws and then six weeks into it we did lab draws. And then, at three months, the 12-week mark, we did lab draws again. And, we did questionnaires at those same points as well as doing physical exam findings.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And, you used, let me see, you used a Promise10 questionnaire. You used a fibromyalgia questionnaire. So, you used validated questionnaires, right?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: We did use validated questionnaires. Yep.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And now these patients, they were new to your practice. They weren’t previously on therapeutic diets or different supplements? I mean, so these were…
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yeah, these were all patients who had been in our practice for a while. They weren’t all my patients. We have a pretty decent size integrative medicine practice. So, only three of these patients were my specific patients. The other four were from other clinicians in our group practice.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Seven in the pilot total?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yeah, we were going to do five, but we ended up with seven and so we decided to do seven.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: So, even if they were already in your practice, they were still presenting with fibromyalgia. They were still presenting with the symptoms you guys wanted to investigate with the SPM. So, it sort of didn’t matter that they had previously done integrative medicine at your clinic, because they were still…
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Correct. So, there is that caveat to this, that they had already gone down that road a little bit. Right? So, these were not conventionally medicine-only treated fibromyalgia patients. Right? We weren’t pulling them out of say, rheumatology clinic where they had only been given drugs for treatment of their fibromyalgia.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: However, you were evaluating them at the point in time that they started in your study, you were evaluating them from that point in time. So, even if they had…
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Correct.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: … an onboard of functional medicine, you were taking that into consideration at the point you started, you weren’t using their original intakes.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Exactly. No, we took them right at that point. And, part of the inclusion criteria is that they were still having symptoms. If they had a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, but we’re doing really well and it wasn’t a limiting factor for them anymore, it wasn’t somebody we wanted to necessarily study.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, no, it wouldn’t make sense. Okay. So, basically, they weren’t responding sufficiently.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Correct.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: To whatever intervention that they were…
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Right.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Okay. All right, so they were entered in, you did a little bit of an onboarding with MyFitnessPal, filled out their questionnaires, got their labs. What labs did you run on them during the study?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: We were looking at what I commonly call the CIRS panel or the chronic inflammatory response. We were looking at some of them immune modulators like MMP9, C4A split compliment, the TGF beta 1. And then, we also looked at high sensitive C-reactive protein and we looked at a couple of like PG prostaglandin E2. I am trying to remember what else. Interestingly enough, the labs didn’t really change.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Oh, okay.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: That became really something that was not an issue. We were hoping to find something but we were not able to do that.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Were their baseline CRPs elevated as a group were some of them? I mean …
Dr. Erik Lundquist: They were not elevated as a group. Some of them were and some of them weren’t. It’s interesting because this is what we see with the chronic inflammatory response individuals. They often have a normal CRP.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Right. Okay. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. All right. So, no major change with any of these parameters. Geez. I know you only have seven, so you can’t do subgroup analysis. You don’t really have that many, but it might be interesting to look.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yeah.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Okay. You just prescribed two soft gels a day of the SPM product, which in my opinion is really low. It’s a pretty small amount and you did it for 12 weeks. Okay. So, what did you find?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: So, what we found, the two questionnaires that we use of interest, one, where was this FIQR, which measured their functional status and their physical impact. And so, there’s a score of, a maximum score is a hundred. Probably if patients were just in a conventional practice, we would have seen higher scores. But our average score initial starting was around 55.6 and so when we started then that’s where they were at the end of the study, they were 34.7, so pretty significant drop. The other aspect that we looked at was a physical component summary and it was basically how they were able to do some kind of activity without pain or the amount of pain that they would have. The lower the score, the worse they are started at 26.4 and jumped up to 34.4 at the end.
What was interesting was a lot of the pain scores that we looked at didn’t really improve. Patients didn’t state that they had improvements in their overall pain, but their overall function and their capacity to do physical labor, whether it’s exercise or doing the laundry improved. So, what was interesting is that their pain probably did not improve because they were doing more. Their capacity to do more was improved. So, that was an interesting aspect of the study that I didn’t anticipate and didn’t expect.
Because it was weird. At the end, I’m like, “Wow, this didn’t have any impact on their pain. So, I guess it doesn’t work.” Right? That’s the initial thought.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yes, yes.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: But when we looked at it, across the board, the patients felt like it had helped them to some aspect from a function standpoint and some had improvements in their sleep. And what was interesting then in looking at this one, what I call true fibromyalgia patient, she was on a medication, one of the common antidepressant medications for fibromyalgia. She was also on another pain relieving medication as well as doing some basic supplements in her lifestyle, right?
Well, at the end of the study, we reviewed what medications she was on and to see if there were any changes and she had stopped everything except for SPMs.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Wow.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: And she felt better than she had felt in 20 years having had fibromyalgia. And literally that was the only thing that she was taking. So, that was interesting to me and it would be really fun to grab some traditional conventional fibromyalgia, functional medicine, naive patients, and do a similar study and see what we would see in those individuals. But, these are the kinds of questions that we often have in our practice, but we don’t ever get a chance to measure it. So, this was a really fun opportunity to look at this.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: It is. I mean, it’s just really pretty exciting. It was a modest intervention and a group of individuals who were not functional medicine treatment naive and you were able to turn them around to a certain extent, put them on the journey in a pretty straightforward way.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Right. And, what we’re learning about SPMs and how they have immune modulation and how they impact the body’s response to triggers for pain, three months is just maybe a beginning portion of the journey. Right? So, the fact that they were making progress in an arena where they’re already doing a lot of the lifestyle and nutrition things that we are always trying to do foundationally for functional medicine. This chain is actually my view and opinion of using this particular product because I hadn’t been that excited about it. And if I had been using this without this study and using these questionnaires, I might’ve seen it as a failure. Right? Because I didn’t notice any changes in my pain. Oh yeah, see it doesn’t work for pain.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yup. Yeah. Right. You’d have to be gathering your follow-up questionnaire, your follow-up data as a clinician. When you had your encounters, you just have to be really careful around looking at their activities of daily living and if they were … They might report that to you, but would you have been able to collate all of these patients and realize, wow, folks are walking more or folks are actually doing a little bit?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yeah.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, you’re right. I think if you hadn’t formalized it in this way, it is possible you would have missed it.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: And to be honest, even when I was done, so I’m gathering all this clinical information, this objective data, it wasn’t until I sat down with the research team and we talked about the results that this realization actually dawned on me.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Wow.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Because as I’m talking to the patients, the patients didn’t think that it did anything for them.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Right. Right. Well, except for that one woman.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Except for the one, right. She was the one outlier. And, so one of the questions that we ended up asking, and we actually prolonged the study for another three months, was how many of the patients continued to take the SPMs after the study? So, they have the opportunity, now they weren’t being given the product, how many were choosing to buy it? Because even though they may have not thought it was helping their pain except for this one woman, how many of the rest of the them, and 50% of them continued to take the product, despite the fact that they were like, “Well, I’m not sure.”
One woman, she stopped because I mean she had some pretty big life crises that kind of happened in the middle of that. And so, her scores were a little skewed and it was interesting because as life happened, it actually protected her a little bit. Her functional scores went down a little bit. But then when we kind of looked at this from a 24-week standpoint, we reevaluated them again three months after and encouraged them to restart. She had significant improvements at the six months, which we’re still gathering that data and putting that together. So, it’ll be interesting to see how that looks when we get the full picture of this study, which this is all still unpublished yet. We’re still finalizing the write-up and hoping to get it published here this fall.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Good. Yeah, I really look forward to kind of picking through some of the details. So, would you say, I mean, fibromyalgia really is kind of a syndrome. It is, and with a host of different etiologies. I mean, do you think SPMs are more appropriate for this kind of “classic fibromyalgia” picture, the centrally mediated pain syndrome that this one woman presented with? Or do you think it’s still a worthy consideration for any etiology that’s presenting, that has FMS’ as a part of it?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yeah, I think it does because I think that there is certainly an immune modulating aspect to this and I think that the inflammatory pathways that get triggered by whatever the underlying etiology is that are leading to the symptoms can be benefited by the use of SPMs. One of the thoughts that I’ve had, and I know you’ve talked about CBD and hemp oil on one of your other podcasts, and we don’t have time to get into that specifically, but in my use of CBD, and one of the areas that I’m going to kind of look at in the future is, one of the differences that I’ve found between kind of SPMs and CBD and their modulation of pain is that I find that CBD tends to be more like the antidepressant pain modulation because of its effects in the neurotransmitters with GABA and serotonin.
SPM tends to be more of the inflammatory, the prostaglandin. I know CBD also helps a little bit in that, but so it’s almost like a … What I’m interested in to see is if we bring those two together, what kind of synergistic component that we’re getting some of the emotional and cognitive mood impairments seeing with fibromyalgia. If that also is improved by adding in an additional broad-spectrum hemp oil/CBD product with the SPMs. If now we even push things a little bit further, it’s a question for the for future study and research.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Is this something you’re going to take on? Are you going to actually do that in all your spare time?
Dr. Erik Lundquist: We’ll see. Now I’ve got the bug. I’ve got the research bug.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: I know. I’m so excited for that. You and I were talking at the beginning that we did a little bone broth study and just a really basic thing. We paid for the tests out of pocket. We wanted to find out if there are toxins in bone broth. We’re prescribing it all the time. If you boil up a ton of bones are you liberating lead? These are basic questions that we want to know. Evidently, we found that the bone broths we looked at were safe. And that study material, if anybody’s interested is available over on our site. But it is really satisfying to get to answer those questions, and it sounds like you guys did a lovely job on this and I really look forward to reading the publication when it comes out.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Well, thank you. I guess lessons learned from this for other clinicians who may be interested in doing this, the key was partnering with somebody who would help with the heavy lifting. I could not have done it alone. You need somebody who’s had some research experience who can help with the writing, if you can find that partnership, I think it can be a really interesting, exciting avenue to continue in with your professional experience. I think we’re living in a time where people are getting burned out on medicine. Thankfully functional medicine is helping to revive that. But when you can actually do research and publish that, things that you’re seeing in your clinic on a daily basis and share that, that for me is really exciting. So, I think that’s, that’s something that has been a great, just personal benefit from having done this study.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Absolutely. So, some clinicians out there are going to be like, “Well, we don’t have a team who’s going to come in and do all this heavy lifting.” And so, I just want to say for our bone broth study folks, it was a question we wanted to answer. And so, I did pay for the test. It wasn’t expensive. We only did, I think our budget was $300 and in hindsight I could have gone to one of these labs and just talk to our rep and bugged him and said, “Hey look, give us a discount. We’re going to do this. We’ll publish it on our and on our website and a blog” whatever. And we probably would have been able to get a discount. But I hadn’t thought of that.
We wrote this little pilot up that we did ourselves just as a blog on our site. We kept it extremely simple. And from that, we now have a partnership with the Health Gut Institute over at NUNM, my alma mater. They’re going to expand on the study and do it so that we can actually write it up for publication. So, that first step we took, not as polished as what Erik just did, but it enabled us to engage in the first bit of research conversation and then just springboard into something more meaningful.
So, there’s many ways we can get into the conversation. And I just encourage you guys, because I know you all have good questions and I know you’re making powerful and astute observations in daily patient care. I would encourage you to comment on what Erik’s done and on what your thoughts are, what you might like to look at in practice, and we’ll just keep this going.
I’m so thrilled, Erik, that you decided to jump in and participate in and that you’ve got the bug. I’ll look forward to seeing what else do you do.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yeah, there’s some exciting things that have evolved out of this and I’m going to be in a little less than a year involved extensively in a really exciting foundational functional medicine research, looking at early detection of disease process. So, what we’re looking at is redefining health as a measure of function versus an absence of disease.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Nice.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: And so, we’re going to be trying to capture individuals who, “think that they’re healthy”, but we actually can look at markers physiologically or physical and functional status, cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and be able to detect early on, much like we do with “prediabetes” and diabetes and start to intervene early, So that they don’t end up becoming … People don’t go from being healthy to having a disease from Monday to Tuesday. Right?
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: It’s a process. And so, many people think they’re okay because their “numbers are okay” or their blood pressure is okay or their weight is okay and they don’t realize that the underneath there’s this storm brewing and they have no clue until all of a sudden the storm hits. And so, I’m really excited for this future project that in a year from now we could probably have another podcast discussion about what we’re doing. That’s going to be really exciting.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Good. Yeah. I look forward to that and I definitely look forward to just hearing from my listeners, even if you’re students, folks, and what your own thoughts are. I mean, it really takes a village. We all are committed to moving the medical paradigm, just changing this disease trajectory that we’re on globally and all of us need to kind of pick up the pieces and participate in this journey. So, I look forward to hearing from everyone.
One more thing, Erik. I know we could keep talking and we have to hang up, But, it’s pretty cool that two SPMs a day, which in my opinion is such a modest amount, actually made a difference in these chronic Lyme/chronic mold folks. I mean, that is pretty darn extraordinary and really worth a huge shout out because many of these patients, they’re kind of headbangers us for us clinicians, they’re really pretty hard to turn around and that’s why they were at your practice and ended up in this study because if they’ve been there for any time, it’s just challenging. You made a difference in a really pretty simple, simple way. So, cool.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yeah. And at that level it’s an affordable amount. You start getting into higher doses, which may have a greater impact, but which…
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: It’s expensive.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: … would be, again, another interesting study to do, dose dependent, but this was something that they could afford to continue. It wasn’t going to break their banks. I think that’s the other aspect of it.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, that’s right. And maybe you only go high-dose short-term. I mean, there’s just a lot of different ways to think about it. But listen, you started the conversation and I think it’s inspiring. So, thank you for joining me today and just good luck in your work. Our conversation is to be continued.
Dr. Erik Lundquist: Yes, definitely.