Dr. Jared Seigler compares Functional Neurology to exploring different highways in the brain. If one road is closed, how do we open another road? How does this impact or support the Autistic Brain?
In a fascinating example of a child doing 3 seemingly unconnected processes at the same time, such as wearing blue glasses, walking backward, and clapping their hands to a metronome, Dr. Seigler demonstrates the effect of the Hebbian process in rewiring the brain!
Disclaimer: The information in this Podcast is for educational purposes only. Vaishnavi Sarathy, Ph.D. is an educator, not a doctor, specifically not your child’s doctor. Please consult your physician before implementing any supplement or diet recommendations.
Hey there. This is Vaish, bringing you the 32nd episode of functional nutrition and learning for Kids. If this is your first time here, I’m a functional nutrition educator and an AP Chemistry and calculus student. Overall, I come to functional nutrition for kids with this model. Sound nutrition and an equal education are the birthrights of every child. If this is your first time here, you will love the breakfast challenge that we recently started. A breakfast following sound nutritional principles can do wonders for your child’s focus, hyperactivity, and mood. Join our next round starting the first of June. You can sign up for this free event at Tinyurl.com/breakfastchallenge2020.
Well, today in the 32nd incredibly enlightening episode of functional nutrition and learning for kids, we get a very in-depth peek into functional neurology with Dr. Jared Seigler. If you have been wondering if functional neurology is the same as neurology, or if you have no idea, or if you’ve been wondering about how our brain can be rewired, you are in the right place.
Dr. Sigler is a Doctor of Chiropractic and a certified functional medicine provider for the past eight years. He’s also trained over 400 hours of functional neurology to help promote the growth, development, and healing of various regions in the central nervous system. For the last four years, he served as the living truth Institute as clinical director. And after training hundreds of clinicians in functional medicine and functional neurology, a large part of his focus is to bring awareness to the healing potential of the human body metabolically through functional medicine and promote neuroplasticity through functional neurology.
This is to help with the rising occurrences of chronic disease and to provide solutions for complex health problems. Thank you for joining us, Dr. Jared, and super happy to discuss Functional Neurology with you.
Dr. Jared Seigler:
So thank you for having me. Um, when you invited me, I thought, Oh, this is really great. Because as you know, we’re talking about autism and pans and things like that. It’s kind of a general, overlying theme. You know, as you said, in the intro, this rising kind of tide is the way I think about it. Whenever I kind of think about maybe even when we were kids, like, just for reference, I’m 36.
You know, and I just think about it, like I was the kid, with glasses in class, and there was like one kid with an inhaler. And that was about it. Maybe one kid was a little fat. And we, you know, maybe make fun of him for being a little chubby, but nothing mean, right? And that was, that was kind of it. And now, I kind of just look at kids. And I think, wow, these kids look really like sick. Like for lack of a better word. Sometimes, you know, noses are always running, can’t sit still these impulse things going on right now.
I just think like, wow, you know, like this, this tides kind of coming, you know, what’s the next generation supposed to look like? For we started hitting records, we were talking about food. And I say, a treat for me growing up, like once a month, my granny would take me to McDonald’s, and I would get a happy meal, like once a month. And I say even then that happy meal, the chemicals in that burger, fries, and Coke, or even made and allow it to be used yet now versus what a child might be eating more commonly than once a month.
This isn’t to vilify McDonald’s or anything, but I just say like, it might look like that same burger and tastes like that same burger that we had when we were kids. But it’s chemically, it’s not the same food. It’s like completely foreign to our bodies. I haven’t worked with an autistic child or I haven’t even heard of an autistic child yet that didn’t have gut issues going on at the same time. Like me, there’s a three-legged stool between the gut, the nervous system, and the immune system, they all have to develop in tandem. If they don’t, then the stool falls over. You know, what’s really cool about the gut?
We can’t even agree on what a healthy gut looks like. Yes. Yeah. You know, everybody’s like, you know, everyone says, quote, unquote, fix the gut. But it’s not like blood work where, for example, we’re supposed to have the same fasting blood sugar. It’s kind of everybody’s supposed to have the same fasting blood sugar, right? I can’t do that with the gut.
We can’t look at somebody’s gut tests, and be like, Oh, you need more lactobacillus. Just because this may say it’s lower in the middle range or something.
And yeah, commissioners are often alternative practitioners are often prescribing specific strains, because they actually perceive the very thing that you said that It’s we don’t have a baseline for but yet this is still practice. Is that correct?
Dr. Jared Seigler:
Yeah, it’s called the receding theory. If you talk to like actual microbiologist that did the Human Microbiome Project, and, but they call it the receding theory, if we’re like, oh, you need lactobacillus rhamnosus, we’ll give you some and they’ll grow in, they’ll start a family down there. And now you have lactobacillus rhamnosus. In your GI tract, really finding that’s not the case.
I just always think of it. Like it’s the Think of the gut like a neighborhood if I put a good kid in a bad neighborhood, that kid has to become tough, or they don’t make it. It is, you know, the types and the ratios and all these bacteria, but it’s a lot of the terrain to what is the immune system kind of able to regulate, what’s the nervous system able to communicate, and what’s the good bacteria and all this digestive chemistry able to kind of do that.
Thank you said terrain doctor because that’s a lot of from a nutritional perspective, I’m always thinking about the terrain as well because it’s not just what a person can eat, but what their terrain is with respect to what they’re eating.
Dr. Jared Seigler:
Yeah, I mean, a lot of the time when we work with children on the spectrum, they might be on a very restrictive diet. A, they probably do not like to eat a lot of food. Anyways, we know variety is not a very common variety of foods, not a very common trait with children on the spectrum. Back to the Human Microbiome Project, what they can agree on is diversity is key. The more different kinds of bacteria you have, the better it is.
I just say it’s, it’s like a rainforest, it should be a diversity of life, not just pines, or palm oil trees. Because like, if you look at the Amazon, it’s a stark contrast between over here is palm oil for Corporation, and over here is the actual Amazon.
I’m loving the analogy. So yeah,
Dr. Jared Seigler:
well, I mean, the gut is kind of it is this forest. And you know, we all have parasites, we’ll have viruses, we have all of these things, but our body was really meant to try to find tolerance.
But back to the term of functional neurology, which is, which is new to a lot of people that are listening. And, and even I was curious about what the difference is between functional medicine and functional neurology, and also maybe Functional Neurology and conventional neurology. So would you mind addressing that?
Dr. Jared Seigler:
Absolutely. So it’s called Functional Neurology. And so neurology would be basically what we would go to for like, Ms. Like some strokes, things like that. And usually nothing really good. seizure disorders, sets, neurologists, and they’re in that allopathic model, like a hospital setting, right? Like maybe they’ll run an MRI, and we’ll see like, yeah, there was an internal capsule stroke on the left-hand side or might use these big words, and then everyone learns the arteries in their head after something like that.
So and that’s where we see this big fire, I say, like, wow, we can see that on an MRI, we can see it on a CAT scan, we can see the seizures on EGS, we can see this stuff happening. But when we think of functional neurology, we’re more focused on the function of the nervous system. So verses like, okay, maybe we have a child with seizure disorders. And we can see that on the EGS. Like, here are some temporal lobe oscillations. And you know, if anyone’s ever seen those reports with their child, they kind of learn those words and things. But what we would be looking for would be things like, well, how does the nervous system function? You know, how do they walk?
How do their eyes move? Can they coordinate their hands? Can they separate one half of the body from the next? Can they interpret sensory information? Can they interpret lots of different kinds of information? Or can they even tolerate information? Are they constantly stimming looking for activation of a certain part of the brain, like they’re flapping when they get excited, or they spin? Or they may be averting and getting away from something because that part of their nervous system can’t handle it.
They’re covering their ears, they’re closing their eyes, they’re trying to hide behind them. When we think about functional neurology, there are just all these different highways in the brain is the way I think about it. And if the main road is closed, we need to try to find a detour. And so we can start activating different parts of the brain with very simple exercises. So I say if you put a cold pack on your head when you bump it, you feel that cold immediately right to override your pain. Yes, that’s the concept of neuroplasticity.
You feel it immediately you create a new signal. And so it’s not uncommon. And that when we maybe start looking at a child that’s on the spectrum, or maybe have all these labels, and just for the record, like I really despise those labels, not saying that they don’t have merit and things like that. And I can understand trying to get an IEP and making sure that a child has the support that they need because it takes a lot of support sometimes. But those letters, don’t tell us who that child is. It doesn’t tell us why this is happening. And it doesn’t really tell us what we can do about it either. Absolutely.
We just kind of put them in a box. And that’s where I love this neuroplasticity. Because you know, you’re on that webinar I did and, and sometimes we can see things real-time and they’re like, well, their hand quit, maybe their hand quit moving like that, they may have a tick or a tremor, like whoa, you know, so we can kind of see these things quickly. And it’s not like a magic wand, you know, it doesn’t stay there. But then we can reach this thing called long-term potentiation.
I just say it’s like riding a bike, you didn’t do it right the first time, but you got a little better and a little better, and you keep doing it right. And then you can’t forget how to ride a bike brain just remembers how to do it. And so we can start kind of exercising and activating a child’s brain through reflexes, or stimulation or movements that be eye movements or limb movements, sounds, vision, we use a lot of colored glasses, maybe like a blue lens versus a Redlands. So when we think about how we can change the stimulus a brain is receiving, then we know we can change its function. And along the way, it took me several years to even get past the point of being discouraged from learning all the pathways in the brain.
It’s a lot of big words. But the more I learned, the more I realized like, well, the applications that we can have can be extremely simple. Yeah, there are big words, but sometimes I’ll be like, Okay, what we’re gonna do is we’re going to put blue sunglasses on your child, and we’re going to have them walk backward, and we’re going to try to clap along to a metronome. And to the average person, they think, Well, that sounds stupid, like, why would that help anything? And I would just say, well, blue activates the right brain, doing something backward, the new activates the basal ganglia because you have to coordinate.
In fact, a lot of that. And clapping along with the cerebellum, helps or clapping along with the time helps the cerebellum learn how to coordinate a lot of events to a cue,
that is fascinating that you’re using all these inputs to the senses, you’re using movement you’re using, and get input to the eyes and to the different senses, to rewire the brain. And you’re actually you I mean, you have information to relate that to specific true, you know, to triggers to specific areas of the brain, right. So that is that just fascinating.
Dr. Jared Seigler:
Yeah, and that’s where we, because when we start, I call them games, when I work with kids, I tell the parents, it has to feel like a game, we got to be having fun while we’re doing this, you know, nobody’s gonna do it. And you know, we can’t in depending on the severity of a child, you know, maybe we can’t do certain games. So we might need to do something like glasses. If they’re not to the point where maybe they can walk backward and clap that’s like maybe too advanced for them. Well, then we have to kind of meet them where they’re at, for example.
Yeah, but I don’t think he could work, walk backward and clap. So yeah,
Dr. Jared Seigler:
yeah, exactly. And that’s where, but that’s what I was. When we look for early signs of autism, for example. It’s really a lot of motor control. But back to using multiple things, what we find is we kind of have to because if we want to activate a certain part of the brain if we do two exercises or two forms of stimulus for that same region, it doesn’t exit it. 10x is the activation, if we do three 100x, is that. So then we reach this thing called the Hebei in process, Dr. Hebei, and found it, which is you’ve now fired enough where you have grown that connection inside of the brain. Amazing. Yeah. And so that’s where we can just take time, you know, when we’re working with children, you know, we can start to see that development happening maybe later in life, like well, now my child is starting to walk and talk and use the restroom appropriately. It will just see it later. But it still takes time.
You know, I’m like, okay, so imagine if this happened when they were two years old, they’re starting to be potty trained at two and three, like, still takes a little bit, right. They didn’t just like, you know, there were accidents, and you know, and so there’s going to be some give and take, but if we know we’re moving in the right direction, then we can start to see changes pretty quickly and they’re usually small changes like they said a new consonant or a They made eye contact or, you know, this was new, it won’t be super, like a 180 change overnight, but we’ll start seeing little new things. And then we say, Oh, we grew a connection there.
Nice. So doctor, um, how much testing is really needed? And can you actually work with the child without testing?
Dr. Jared Seigler:
Um, we do the metabolic testing. I don’t like I like to do the right tests, not like all the tests. Back to their, you know, the GI tract, like all my kids always constipated, I can’t just kind of look at them and be like, yeah, it’s this specific bacteria, or, you know, this yeast or Candida because there’s always a lot of test results, what I’ve found is the more tests you run, the more you find, yes, which that can be okay, as long as the tests agree with each other. So that’s where we want to make sure you know, we run the right tests, we view them in context, we know they’re actually legitimate lab and things like that. But when we think of the nervous system, that’s where it just, I don’t want to say just because that diminishes it, but seeing how the nervous system just functions. That to me, that’s like the test. So when we start working with kids, we’ll have these questionnaires like maybe some kid is verbally, has like verbal outbursts, but not physical. that’s those are like what we would call a fork in the road, like, Hey, that’s a clue.
Which side of the brain are we thinking maybe, you know, what was the stimulus that caused it or what’s not happening. And so we kind of start thinking about making a map. So to speak back to the highway analogy, we start making a map of brain thinking about it, balance is one of my favorite things, because you can start to see immediate changes in that and say, okay, my kid was able to close their eyes and stand better. And unlike cool, guess what else now that brain can start to balance that part of the brain can balance a lot of other stuff other than just them standing there with their eyes close.
Yeah, wow. So these are the things that you were talking about that the small things that you see when a child is balancing are able to stand.
These are things that can manifest when they’re not working properly, can manifest as any, like, you know, ADHD, focus issues, learning issues, OCD, is that correct? That like many of these, and the way you’re collecting them may seem like they have no relation to
Dr. Jared Seigler:
what they do when you think about it. Because say, if we think like ADHD, right, we’ll use that for an example.So that’s, then maybe the medication is like an Adderall, or Vyvanse, or an SNRI, or something. So we think,
Well, how does giving a stimulus help a child focus? You think it’d be the opposite, right? They’d be like, more hyper? Well, so the basal ganglia requires a lot of energy. Because if we think of our focus, like a spotlight, there’s a part of the brain called the basal ganglia that turns a spotlight and shines that attention on one thing, and it keeps it there. We think of the basal ganglia like Parkinson’s, do you think they could point to a dot know their hand is going to be all over the place, right? Because the basal ganglia doesn’t only control motor function movement, it also regulates emotions, back to the kids on the couch, that that child on the couch that couldn’t poop and he just regressed back to like an infant. That was the basal ganglia being affected.
It also regulates a lot of mood and movement. So now the kids moving around, now they’re hyper. Now they can’t focus on one thing, their body can’t focus, their mind can’t focus. So we give them a stimulus. And now they can attenuate that focus and calm down. They’re still, but we kind of had to give a stimulus to do it, which, to me, when we think of if the brain is having trouble, I say if a part of the brain is having trouble, it’s like a sprained ankle, that one part of the body is hurt. I don’t know if I sing it and continuing to run on that sprained ankle are a good idea. So I don’t know if you know, giving a kid a medication and forcing them to sit through math is necessarily the best long term strategy. Yes, but it lets us get an idea of well, it helped. So why that’s
Great overview of what this is. And actually, I have a lot of questions in my mind that I need to ask but we’re in the for 25 minutes.
I wanted to ask you if you had three action items for parents that are listening that they can do by themselves.
Dr. Jared Seigler:
Absolutely. And that’s where there’s you know, so much because I get like all these questions, like can this help in my kind of blanket responses? Probably it can. You know, you don’t know right? Without doing the due diligence, but that’s where I would say bar none cooking at home. We can get to a very specific type of diet. And I know kids can get specific with their chicken nuggets. But just cooking at home the quality of the food but the love that goes into that food is completely different.
Gluten-free and dairy-free is a good start. Okay, usually what I find with children, is they crave the food that’s most problematic for them. That kid has to eat peanut butter all the time and throws a temper tantrum if he doesn’t get peanut butter, fast. All right, red flag, like right there. And I just say this is going to not be fun. But we got to get them through kind of this detox or there was withdrawal. Like we got to get them to quit eating that food. They’re eating it because it’s a problem. The most common ones and I said peanut butter, but the most common ones are gluten, casein and dairy, rice and corn.
I see a kid that’s like I have they have the popcorn. They just eat the bread. They drink chocolate milk every meal, like they have the rice cakes are all this that you know, they’re on like that’s it. That’s that’s the problem right there. And we don’t have to run a test do it. Your kid has told me it’s a problem. It’s called EXO morphemes. Morphine-like opioid receptor sites. So EXO means out outside of the body. They’re also called like casing morphemes, KC morphemes would be from the dairy gluteal morphemes would be from the gluten. But generally, they’re called exome orphans. So those are usually some of the foods will be like right out of the gate.
Let’s just that that’s happening. Let’s just stop it. Okay. I’ll go ahead.
Yeah, no, I was saying. So basically, the action items are I was just restating them cook, cook at home, get to do to free dairy free diet and try to see if you can, what is your child really craving or being addicted to and try to see if you can follow a period of elimination without that.
Dr. Jared Seigler:
Yeah. But wait, there’s more now. And that’s where I was gonna say, back to light. Avoiding blue light can be good. And for those that aren’t aware, we always think blue light, bad blue light, bad. unopposed blue light, wrong times of the day can be bad. Back to that front of the brain and focus. We’ll find blue lights can help with that, but it can overstimulate so when I work with teachers, so like, Oh, I’m a teacher, by the way, I work with special ed kids.
I’m like, Hey, can you shut off the lights and just let the sunlight in? And these teachers are like, Oh, my gosh, Timmy sat still Ryan didn’t hit anybody. And I’m like, yeah, that lights maybe pushing their brain to just be too hyper. So avoiding that blue light, especially in schools, those overhead halogen lights can be pretty problematic. Because light is big energy for the brain.
A lot of kids do good with blue blocker glasses. Sometimes they’ll do better with blue or red or yellow. I said just go to Walmart and try on the different color ones. And the parents are like, how do I know which one it is I’m like, you’ll know. Like, they’ll just either say Wow, I feel calm or, or you’ll just notice the difference. Like I’ve seen blast injury veterans that got blew up overseas that were so painful. They could like barely walk in, turn their head, the blue light blockers on and then they’re like, not 100% button.
Now they can turn their head left to right, you start walking just with changing light input. So those are what I call like, oh my gosh, moments like oh my gosh, that actually just happened. So that’s where you might see that. But maybe if your kids talking, they might say like, Mom, I feel better when we go out when I’m wearing the yellow lenses and say, Okay, we’ll just wear those. That’s like a no harm, no foul type of thing. Yes. But one of the biggest things I would say for kids without getting into specific games and exercises, because you know, that’s like tailored individually that say the best thing we can do is just get them outside and playing huffing and puffing and we think of brain development of somebody breathing hard from like it, whatever we can do running around chasing, playing whatever we can do that is going to have more positive effects on the brain, we would have to try to give a kid a handful of pills and like 30 different neural exercises to try to just make up for having a little bit of fun outside and breathing hard.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen my son huff and puff. So that’s that’s something to think about.
Dr. Jared Seigler:
That can be hard too because a lot of the part of the brain for maybe that motivation to accomplish a goal and do something that’s also that’s like that part of the that can be the frontal cortex, the basal game, there’s a lot of big words for different areas that can be but that’s when you know sometimes I love those emails when I get from a mom when they’re like, my son looked for a way to help with the chores like they’re, they’re like, trying to do more stuff. They’re like wanting to do stuff because the right brain is exploring.
When we think of the hemisphere, a city of the brain, there’s what’s called the hemispheres city model left brain versus right brain, right, an artist versus a chemist. And so when we think about a lot of the things like motivation, or novelty or something new, that’s the right brain. And so typically, that’s where, when we see an overactive part of the brain in relation to another, we might have the same routine, those OCD tendencies, what’s called perseveration, where it’s the same subject just focused on that.
The left brain likes don’t like new stuff, it likes little minute details. And the right brain is big new ideas and all these things. So when we start to see that balance in the frontal cortex a little bit more than parents start saying things like, Yeah, I noticed they’re like, their mood, their motivation, like things are, because the frontal cortex is who we are as a person, you know, someone’s, that’s depressing, they’re not like, a bad person or anything, just the front of their brain is having trouble making them feel happy due to all the inflammation and stress that their body’s going under at that moment.
Right. So that’s where there’s this big stigma about all these neurological labels. And just think we need to get past that recognize it for what it is we’re like, well past Freud, and all of those, like weird electroshock therapies and everything. But I think when we look at the way we’re trying to currently focus on, for example, autism and pans. And, you know, of course, if we need steroids, if a kid’s going through pandas flare to like, keep them from hurting themselves, or somebody like please use that system. But I don’t think we I think we’re in the past or in the future, we’re gonna look back and think, man, we were just really abrasive. We weren’t really trying to do what the body was trying to do. We’re trying to like, go against it.
Well, thank you, Dr. Sigler, for the wonderful information you’ve given to us.
I feel like I must have you over again because I’ve there’s just like, I have at least another 20 questions lined up in my mind to ask you, your where can people find you?
Dr. Jared Seigler:
Oh, yeah, the easiest place our website become proof.com. And you can click around and you’ll find me. That’s the way I looked. So now, I know. And that’s where, because a lot of what we do, as you know, is so different and unique. A lot of people aren’t even familiar with functional medicine too much, let alone functional neurology. Right. So people like you and neurologists, and I’m like, No, if you’re having a stroke, please go see one of them. Right, like our goal would be afterward. What can we try to do to get as much growth and healing to happen as we can? Absolutely. Thank you. So thank you for having me, though.
I hope everybody learned a lot and enjoyed it.
What an episode. Now Dr. Seigler had many gems to share about gi function and functional neurology, and I hope to have him again on our podcast to discuss gi function, and the many myths surrounding this in more detail. As always, your listening device, remember my website, www.functionalnutritionforkids.com. And the music as always is by my daughter, Maitri Gosh See you next Friday. Keep well.