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Ep.47: Interpreting Your Genetics with James Maskell

Robyn Openshaw - Sep 06, 2017 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

What’s going on in functional medicine is exciting and today I introduce James Maskell. He is an advocate for the patient and a successful entrepreneur. He’s been very passionate about building a movement and a new medical system capable of dealing with the epidemics of chronic illness. His first business, The Evolution of Medicine helps physicians prepare for the new era of personalized participatory medicine. James’ next venture is going to connect patients to these providers in a seamless digital experience.

He will also discuss a summit he did recently that you can get online access to from the link below. In this summit you will learn best practices for using genetic and genomic information to alter your lifestyle, guide treatment and create better health!


Access the Interpreting Your Genetics Summit HERE!

Learn more about James Maskell’s mission:


Robyn:                    Hey, everyone. It’s Robyn Openshaw. Welcome back to Your High Vibration Life. Just a couple of weeks ago, we did an episode on what is new and exciting in functional medicine. Specifically, I was talking about how for eight years now, I’ve been going to a clinic of biological medicine founded by the famous Dr. Thomas Rau who has helped bring biological medicine to the US. Here in the US, we call people who practice holistically or people who practice outside of standard of care, standard of care being what you can bill to an insurance code, which tends to be technology, drugs and surgery. What’s going on in functional medicine is pretty exciting. I have someone I want to introduce to you. I mentioned him in that last episode. I want to introduce to you, James Maskell. He has the soul of an advocate for the patient.

He also has the mind of an entrepreneur. He’s been very passionate about building a movement and a new medical system capable of dealing with the epidemics that we’re dealing with of chronic illness the past couple of decades. His first business, The Evolution of Medicine helps physicians prepare for the new era of personalized participatory medicine. That sounds pretty good, right? James’ next venture is going to connect patients to these providers in a seamless digital experience. Really excited to introduce to you to James and learn a little bit about a summit he has coming up that we are inviting you into about the human genome and all this testing that you hear going on out there. Welcome to the show, James Maskell.

James:                     Such a pleasure to be here with you, Robyn as ever. Thanks for having me on the show.

Robyn:                    Well, it’s good to chat with you again. In talking with you a little bit before, I’ve been really super curious to hear more about what the summit is going to do. You heard the back story. We’ve talked about you already a little bit in a previous episode. How did you end up deciding to do this human genomics summit? How did you end up here?

James:                     Well, it’s interesting. As you’ve said in the intro, we’ve been preparing the medical community for this new era of predictive participatory medicine. For four years, we’ve been building communities of doctors all around the world who are interested in functional medicine. Functional medicine is not totally synonymous with other ideas like holistic medicine and alternative medicine. The thing that’s different about functional medicine, it has of the same concepts but one of the thing that separates it is that it’s an operating system. It’s a system that a doctor can follow that they can do with every patient, which is really important if you’re looking to scale something up. If you go to a naturopath, if we go to integrative medicine, it’s all good.

Just know that the other naturopath or the other integrative doctor down the road doesn’t practice in the same way. That can lead to confusion. It’s just not a scalable system. As I said, we’ve been trying to create something that’s really scalable. Over the last two years, I’ve been going to these awesome conferences about genomics. Dr. Jeffrey Bland is a leader. He puts on this event called the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute thought leaders conference. I went last year. The whole topic was on genomics. I’ve been to two to three other genetics and genomics conferences. The moment that I decided to do this event, it was back in March.

This new ruling came out where 23andMe, which is by far the biggest genetic testing company as far as number of tests that have been done, suddenly announced that they won over the FDA and now that everyone was going to be able to get not just their hereditary data but their health data, too from 23andMe. This is a big moment for them.

Robyn:                    Okay. Hold on. Hold on. You should tell everyone what 23andMe is because you are super deep in this. Not everyone has heard of it. There’s so much buzz about it.

James:                     23andMe is a genetic testing company. It was started by one of the Wojciki sisters who are three titans of intellectualism in Silicon Valley. Their mom is incredible, Esther Wojciki. Yeah. They started 23andMe and it’s essentially a genetic processing company where you submit some saliva and then you get your genetic information back. There are a number of companies that do it. They’re just the fastest moving, most people know about them. It’s called 23andMe. For $99, you can do an ancestry test and for $199, you can do ancestry now and health risk information. If you ask people on the street, “What’s the genetic testing company?” More people will know that one than anything else.

That’s the reason I mentioned it but thank you for [withdrawing 00:04:48] because I am in it now. I’ve been doing interviews and I’ll be writing this. Thank you for holding me back on that one.

Robyn:                    Yeah. I totally hijacked your talking about how’d you end up getting so interested in this.

James:                     The FDA changed the rules. Now said we’re going to send out a lot of this health data as well. I think in the functional medicine world and generally, if you’re in the world of working with doctors, I think we all hoped that by the time this was available to everyone where Morse Law, which is the law that predicts that the improvement of speed of computers and the cost of said computers goes down in an exponential rate. The cost of genetic testing for the first time is reasonable enough that everyone could do it. I think we all hoped that by the time that was available, that it’d be this army of well-informed providers ready to talk us through our individual genetic testing, would understand the testing, would understand the implication of the test. That’s just not the case at this moment.

There’s not an army of these doctors ready to go. What I decided to do was to do this summit really to take all of the awesome information that I’ve been hearing at conferences over the last few years and make it available to anyone online for free. The world of genetic testing is undergoing and interpreting that genetic test. It’s undergoing a dramatic shift and I’m happy to talk about that shift. The shift is really important to understand. I needed to essentially make sure that everyone out there could understand what that shift was so that people could make really responsible decisions with their genetic information.

There is a massive opportunity but irresponsible decision making based of genetic information. My goal is to be there to be able to communicate the latest understanding of what to do with genetic information and make sure that people use it responsibly. I saw no one else trying to do that. I was just like, “Okay. I’m going to step in and try and take responsibility for this.” I’m very excited about the way things have come together. I think that pretty much anyone who listens tonight will be empowered rather than seeing this as some fatalistic … Most people don’t want to know how they’re going to die. That is not what we’re talking about right now at all. We’re talking about empowering the information about who you are as an individual and how you can use that information to make better health decisions like a day in green smoothie.

Robyn:                    Yeah. I think that a lot of times, when you find out your genetic code, you find out more about it, which has never been a possibility until 2017. Now with 23andMe and these other genetic not just tests but these databases. The power of it is in the databases. It’s connecting you to other people all over the world into what continents your ancestors came from. It’s not tracing it back like I did being raised a Mormon and sitting down and writing out my ancestry. We kept track of it and passed it down from generation to generation. Your genetics tell you that information. I’m really glad you brought up that generally speaking, when you get your genetic information, it’s not going to be you are going to die of cancer. You are going to die of this rare autoimmune disease. It’s giving you some suggestions.

I want you to talk about that a little bit. Because there’s someone in my life who is BRCA 1 positive. She’s diagnosed with Stage IIC ovarian cancer, had surgery and then she decided to have a three-stage double mastectomy just preventatively, similar to what Angelina Jolie did I believe. She would tell me. She didn’t ask me like, “Gosh. What can I do preventatively?” She would say, “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what I eat. Nothing in your world, nothing in the world of functional medicine, nothing in the world of holism, nothing in the world of nutrition can possibly help me because I’m BRCA 1 positive.” She didn’t want to hear it so I didn’t say it.

It’s only 60 something percent of people who have the BRCA 1 gene who actually get breast cancer or ovarian cancer. That’s a high number and that’s one of the genetic markers that everyone’s most fearful of. Women are but tell us about that. What do we do with genetic information? Just generally and you could give some examples if you want. Should we really fear it?

James:                     Yeah. We have to take genetic testing into the context of where it’s being used up until now. Even back in the ’60s and ’70s, we started to see the emergence of these genetic counselors that we would go and see particularly when you’re having a child. What they would be able to do is to find out ahead of time will this kid have cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, any of these genetic markers? In everyone’s mind, the genetics equals things that you’re going to have that you will never be able to do anything about. That’s the need in society is that that’s what genetics is about. Now, there was a lot of excitement in the late ’90s. I think it was 2000 where Clinton was standing there saying, “Hey. We’ve decoded the human genome.”

I think most people felt there was only going to be a couple of years until we had basically an understanding of the genetic origin of what these diseases and that we’d be able to understand people how they get them and why they get them because of their genes. We’d be able to do some technological editing of said genes to be able to free mankind of those disease. I think that was the plan. That’s not how it’s working out at all. That’s what I’m here to say. What we’re seeing and what the research shows is that there are such a small number of genes. I don’t include BRCA 1 in this at all where it’s a fatalistic diagnosis of something happening.

What we’re actually trying to see is that not only is the strongest force in your genetic expression, epigenetics and epigenetics is probably a word that you’ve heard spoken about on this podcast and all the way through your work, Robyn. Because that’s essentially what you’re doing. When you get people in to take in a green smoothie, you’re bathing their genes in a new set of information that allows the most effective and powerful and healthiest expression of those genes. This world of epigenetics has really turned the world of genetics on its head because what we realized is that the power of controlling the environment is actually much more powerful than the powerful of the genes itself. Now, that being said, the genes do certain things.

The other thing that we started to learn is that it’s not just about one gene in isolation or one SNP, a singular nucleotide polymorphism, SNP. I was actually on the first day of the summit. If you registered Robyn, one of the talks that we got is basically a glossary because this is a different language. This is a different language that you speak. One of the speakers on the first day is essentially has a 45-minute talk taking us through the most popular words that we’re going to use. What’s genetics? What’s genomics? What’s epigenetics? What’s a genome? What’s a SNP? What’s a mutation? We’ve added a training on the first day so that you can really understand how to use that information for the rest of the week through the education.

What we’re finding Robyn is that by far, the majority of genetic SNPs are not merely as powerful as far as health comes as our ability to turn on the good healthy genes, resilience genes. Turn off the bad disease genes. All of that is modifiable via lifestyle, via modern day. The diet, the sleep, the exercise, the relaxation, the fundamentals of health creation. What we’re saying is that they’re more important than ever. For the first time, we understand the mechanism by which if you eat bad for a period of time, how does that turn on certain genes? Turn off certain genes? I don’t agree with the BRCA 1 person. I don’t think that that thing. I think all of those tests are done with most people eating the standard American diet. I lost faith in that kind of science when I lived in New Haven, Connecticut.

I saw the kind of people that were going in for those clinical trials. It was homeless people and students. I don’t think that that’s real. I think if you’re the person that understands being able to change one’s environment, you can be part of the 40%. You can almost guarantee that especially if you understand the BRCA gene in the context of other genes. What you see is that there’s a lot more of the holistic approach to gene interpretation because it’s not about one gene. It’s about how that gene fits into the overall pathway that’s part of that overall pathway fits into the organs and systems. What we’re seeing is that actually genetic testing now is more like an early warning signal of what you as an individual need to be wary of rather than any fatalistic thing that you’re going to get as disease. Does that make sense?

Robyn:                    Yeah. It actually makes me really excited. It’s very helpful that our genes aren’t telling the whole story. I’m super glad that you brought up epigenetics and the fact that our environment or lifestyle choices are far more powerful than what specific genetic pool we landed in, which genetics simply landed in. I wonder. I think it was one of your people, Charles Dickens from the motherland over there in England where you came from who said talk about the best of times and the worst of times. Let’s see. Tale of Two Cities I think opens with that. I wonder. Is this the best of times? Is this the worst of times in medicine? What’s the future of medicine look like to you? You just came out of this immersion experience in interviewing all the great minds who know about human genetics and what we’re about to do with it.

James:                     Yeah. If you register today, you get three free talks, to listen to before it actually starts on August 21st. If you registered today, don’t listen to me. Go listen to Dr. Jeffrey Bland. He equates what’s happening today in genetics and this move towards personalized medicine. In the same way as personal computing in the 1970s. Where at the beginning, it was clumsy and no one really knew who it did. Most people said, “This is not going to catch on. I’ll never use it.” Then here we are 40 years later and everyone’s got a smart phone. It’s been that many iterations of the technology since that. He feels that this is analogous to that. That we’ve been doing population medicine for the population and now, we’re moving into medicine for the individual.

The genetic information is going to be driving a lot of the decisions. Once we really understand the role of lifestyle in gene expression, what he’s surmising and what I agree with and the other reason why I put in this summit is that I believe that functional medicine, the operating system is going to be the operating system for this new era of personalized, predictive, preventive medicine. Because it’s a standard process that people can go through. Also, because now the Cleveland Clinic has a functional medicine center. They’re showing at that clinic that you get better outcomes at lower costs with functional medicine for the majority of chronic diseases. I see a perfect storm.

In that way, I think if you’re the kind of person that believed in holistic medicine, maybe intuitively, or you’re the kind of person that’s had good results with it and you’ve had to deal with doctors telling you that you’re insane. Any feedback from the medical community that’s been sub optimal, my feeling right now is it’s going to be the best of times. Because the world is coming around to holism, Robyn. Because guess what? We’re a system. It’s a systems approach. The lessons that we learn from understanding ourselves and the way that the body is interconnected super valuable for ourselves, for our communities and everything. I think this is the best of times. I think you’re going to see as Gary Vaynerchuk said, “The new world is going to eat the old world.” I tend to see that happen in medicine.

Robyn:                    That’s exciting because I’m from that school you just described. My little boy was diagnosed failure to thrive. They put him on five courses of liquid steroids. I opted out. I was scorned. I thought that the pediatrician would throw his pen at me when I asked a question about, “Hey. Do you think that dairy and sugar products are mucus forming for this little one-year old who is in and out of hospitals and emergency rooms and on breathing machine every four hours? What do you think about that?” I thought he was going to throw his pen at me.

That was really just the beginning of a lot of … Actually, it wasn’t the beginning. It was three generational of my grandmother being told that she was crazy and that she was going to die when she opted out of chemo and radiation and did the Gerson diet and all the strange things that that entails. I’m really glad to hear that. That there’s a lot of hope. Do you think that more things are going to be paid for by insurance that are outside of the drug approach?

James:                     Yeah. That’s a very different topic. I have very specific thoughts on that. I would love to crush the insurance game, too while I’m at it. I intend to because I don’t think that preventive medicine and insurance go hand in hand just like the same way that you don’t expect. We have a very clear idea of what insurance is for in home insurance and car insurance. It’s like paying for stuff when something goes seriously wrong. The health insurance is just such an ugly mess. Preventive medicine and insurance don’t really go hand in hand for me. The fact that you have to pay out of pocket, I don’t think it’s ideal, too. That’s a bigger topic for another day, Robyn. I’ll come back on to the podcast when we have an alternative to health insurance that people can buy and use that will crush the insurance companies, too.

Because I’m intending to make it but it’s just a little bit further down the product line from where we are here. I think that making this kind of care available to more people is definitely my number one priority. That’s what all the work that I’m doing is how do we make functional medicine the operating system so that everyone can benefit from it? Because up until now, it’s really being for my friend Robin Berzin says, “The very rich, the very sick and the very green.” Those are the only three kinds of people that have gone for it. We believe that it should be in the hands of everyone. That’s what we’re working towards.

Robyn:                    Okay. I want to remind us what your definition of functional medicine is because you took issue with it being holistic. I just want to say that at some point James, let’s just make this intention here. Can you help me get somebody on my show to talk about that issue? Because right now, we’re all signing up for these Christian ministries. I’m not sure that’s sustainable. It doesn’t feel super sustainable to me.

James:                     I’ll just give you a preview just because your fans is one of the best. Imagine the concept of the Christian ministry but automated with block chain technology and not run by a bunch of man alliance in Ohio on paper. That’s essentially what I’m talking about is like a very technologically driven but the same kind of idea, which is groups of people getting together to hedge their risk by being a group. I think that’s a much more efficient way. It would save most people about 90% on their current health insurance premiums. Because all of that money, it’s such a scam. When you look under the hood, Robyn, part of what we’re doing in new is educating people how to get the most out of the healthcare system for the least.

Because what most people don’t know is that if you just show up at your primary care doctor and you’ve got one of these new high deductible health insurance plans from Obama Care. Let’s say your deductible is $5,000. You show up at your primary care office. You give your insurance card. They say, “You need these 10 lab tests.” They send the bill for those 10 lab tests up to your insurance company but because you haven’t met your deductible, they now pay it back to you. You’re responsible for $3,000 of lab testing. What you don’t know is that if you went to those labs directly and said, “Hey, I want these labs. Could I pay cash?” That would cost you $150. It’s a 20x marker. That is criminal.

What we’re looking to do is to help people navigate the bullshit system so that they can get the best quality of healthcare for the minimum possible cost. This is exactly what we’re doing. Part of the reason why we do this genetics summit is what we start to realize is that the potential lifetime cost of someone who doesn’t know that they’re particularly susceptible to let’s say an environmental insult like a heavy metal insult. If they have some genetic weakness that would mean that they can detoxify metal, then those people are likely to get metal to contamination and end up with symptoms like let’s say an autism diagnosis that cost $3.2 million over the life cycle of care.

If you’re an economist like me, you think is there any way that we get to have to find who those people are before they take whatever crazy medical intervention or if they decide to work at a coal mine or whatever that might be or a Monsanto plant or Dow chemical plant. I’ll be able to say to those people, “Look, you are more likely to process these toxins while you need to be in a non-toxic environment.” That has to be part of the future because the cost of these chronic diseases is so unsustainable. We’re intervening way too late. We need to get upstream. Genetic data is the ultimate upstream information.

Robyn:                    Yeah. Not being able to detoxify or not having those detoxification pathways to eliminate the heavy metals. That’s one of the most talked about things in functional medicine that the functional practitioners are working on. Define functional practitioner. I know that you’re working on a system where they all get on the page, it’s the Wild West. There’s naturopathic doctors. There’s naturopathic medical doctors. There’s chiropractors. There’s all these different disciplines. I know that’s what you’re working on but define functional medicine one more time.

James:                     Yeah. Let’s start. I like to start with integrative medicine. Integrative medicine is the integration of standard of care modalities that you would get if you go to a regular doctor and non-standard of care modalities. That’s what I interpret is that we know the big umbrella is doing a mixture of things that are currently endorsed by medicine and currently not. Functional medicine is different. That is an operating system for chronic flaw delivering care. These are the three things that it has in common. One is that it expects the party or it relies on the participation of the patient. It’s participatory and that the patient actually has to participate in their health. Eating the right things, sleeping properly, relaxing, exercising, all of that. It’s participatory.

It’s also it’s focused around a mutually beneficial relationship that’s between the patient and the practitioner. It’s grounded in a systems way of approaching the body. In medicine, we have a medicine by histology. Where is the problem? If you have a problem in your heart, you’re going to see a cardiologist. If you have a problem with your hormones, you go and see an endocrinologist. Unfortunately, most chronic diseases are not related to a particular organ or system. It might even be caused in one system and another one. For instance, we’re seeing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, brain diseases. Now the new science is showing that they’re being caused in the gut. Well, it’s a problem because your neurologist doesn’t read the gastroenterology journals. The functional medicine doctor is food and systems biology.

I think of it as a generalist. It’s someone who understands all parts of the body, well enough to see the interconnection between them. That systems medicine, that is the future of medicine because it doesn’t matter whether we’re looking at single symptoms and tying together multiple symptoms or whether it’s single genetic markers and trying to get that back into a story. The ability to see patterns and do pattern recognition in patients and understand that all of these symptoms may have one common cause is crucial. If there’s one way that I would recommend thinking about functional medicine is a three-word term that I really like, which is root cause resolution.

Where you look for the root cause, you identify that root cause and you will remove that root cause. That to me is the essence of functional medicine. Obviously, it’s delivered through this partnership and the other things that I said but root cause resolution is the way that I will implant it into your mind as to what functional medicine is.

Robyn:                    That was really, really helpful. Thank you. Because so many banners flying under that same flag and so that really helped and simplified it for me. Okay. Let’s talk about your summit. People can opt into that if they’re hearing this within a couple of weeks of it airing. It’s all about all the experts out there talking about human genetics testing and what to do with it and what you need to know as a lay person. Am I right?

James:                     Absolutely, yeah. No. That’s exactly it. There’s a few different parts to it. There’s obviously the first day, we have the visionaries talking about where it’s going. Craig Benton who sequenced the human genome. We’ve got Jeffrey Bland who I just mentioned. The second day is really dedicated to all the ways that you can improve your genetic expression. There are ways through diet, through exercise, through sleep, even learning new skills. There’s one by Titus Chiu who’s a really cool dude. I saw him lecture. He calls the sensory genomics and how to use the senses to improve your genetic expression. Super fascinating. Later on, we go into some of the new omics. One thing to know and this is a great analogy I think for your people here. Genetics is very much like you think about it like a house.

If someone’s ill and if you want to think of them as a house, does it make sense to understand that the house is falling down from the blueprints alone? Genetics is basically like the blueprints of the house. You could understand major problems in the house through the blueprints. If you go look at the blueprints and you’re like, “Well, this wall wasn’t even designed right.” You can understand why the house is falling down. More often than not, the house is falling down not because of the blueprints being wrong but the maintenance being wrong. There are new genetic or genomic tests that are coming out right now that look up not the blueprints of the actual brick and mortar of the house. That’s later on in the week, we’re talking about the new omics.

Metabolomics, Transcriptomics, which are essentially instead of measuring the genes themselves, you’re measuring the production of the genes. For instance, in Metabolomics, you’re measuring the metabolites that come out at the end of result of processes within the body. That’s really where I think this is going in the future. Microbiomics, understanding the genes of the microbes that are in your gut, and the composition of those kind of things. We have a couple of days dedicated to the new omics and specific areas where genetics is interesting like brain health, heart health. We’ve got a great session on Type II diabetes, blood sugar handling and how genetics relate to that. We have a day looking at which genetic test to get and which one would be the right one to get.

The last day is Sunday is really dedicated to health professionals. What I’d love all of your community to help on is sign up for the summit. Register and then if you ever had a frustrating moment with your doctor, with any doctor, I would invite you to ask your doctor if the interpreting your genetic summit is right for them. Particularly, the Sunday because on that Sunday, we’re going to be essentially sharing with doctors the opportunity to become essentially this predictive preventive medicine doctor of the future in their own hometown, in their own footprint. That’s what we’ve been doing for the last four years, Robyn is creating structures where doctors can switch to functional medicine. We feel like the genomic revolution is going to be the catalyst to send many more doctors.

The truth is, in the past I’ve only done events for health professionals. This event is mainly for the end user apart from that last day. One of the things we have to understand about genetics is we’re all learning as we go along. It’s not like the doctor does know everything and the patients know nothing. No one knows anything about it. It’s happening in real time. That’s why I think it’s exciting too is because it creates this level playing field where the patriarchy isn’t the best. Us little people can be affected, too.

Robyn:                    Yeah. I think it’s really exciting that there’s so many doctors who are seeing the deficits and wanting to join the functional medicine world and wanting to educate themselves higher than what they were just taught in medical school, which of course is so prescribed by some specific industries like pharma. It’s interesting, James in the last six or eight months, we have so many people who are following green smoothie girl now because in our spring detox, which is the program that we’ve now supported over 10,000 people. We had the truth about cancer, Chris Wark, Tom O’Bryan and Isabella Wentz tell their audiences. These tend to be people who have autoimmune disease or cancer. We had hundreds of thousands of people come to us from those communities to do our detox and had really powerful results.

Our audience has changed because we have this influx of so many people who are following what we do and wanting to learn about human detoxification from me, who are talking about the deficits in their care. I’m wondering. Should people join your summit? We have so many newer followers, not the first nine years of the green smoothie girl but this past year. They’re very frustrated that they’re not getting answers from their standard of care doctor. Are they going to get some deeper ideas about where they could go to find out what’s going on? Because so many of them can’t be diagnosed. They have all these aches and pains and symptoms and problems. It’s affecting them emotionally that medicine is not giving them answers and accurate diagnoses. Is this going to be helpful for them?

James:                     Super helpful. Guidance in the right direction. What we’re trying to do is build up an army of practitioners that are capable of working with them, too on the backend. Yeah. I hear what you’re saying. On this summit, you’re going to hear from doctors who are operating in this new operating system of medicine and are recovering people just like them. One of the speakers is doctor in the house, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee who is basically blowing the lid on this whole thing. He has a TV show in the UK, Robyn called Doctor in the House where it’s basically like Dr. Oz meets Super Nanny. Imagine Dr. Oz comes and lives in your house for two months, six weeks.

What they’ve seen is that people who have been recovering from all these illnesses in six weeks because the diagnosis, basically what all these people have in common is that they’re going to see doctors who are treating their chronic disease through the same lens and operating system as acute disease. Name it. Blame it and shame it and tame it. A pill for every ill and it doesn’t work in chronic disease. All these people like from truth about cancer, Isabella Wentz’ group, these guys have chronic disease. They need an operating system that understands how they got there and how to get them back. That is functional medicine. At this moment, there’s a big demand and supply issue in functional medicine.

There is so much demand for it because of books like Mark Hyman and Dave Asprey and all these other people who are saying, “Go and see functional medicine doctors.” There’s tons of demand. The supply is limited. At the summit, we’re launching a new service, which is essentially functional medicine for everyone. I’ve been thinking about this for seven years. I realized that I had to build the network of doctors because we had to get more doctors. There’s not enough to build any current system. I’m really excited to launch it here. All of those people absolutely come and learn. You’re going to learn about new things that are important in taking care of your health. I just had to give a shout out to one particular talk by this guy called George Slavich that I spoke about in my book a lot.

If I told you Robyn that the strength and quality of your personal relationships was a bigger driver of mortality than what you eat, whether you drink, whether you smoke or whether you exercise, you’d probably say, “That’s bullshit.” Because you know how important those things are to health. Well, I’m here to tell you that is true. For some people, they can be doing all the right things. Guess what? They’re lonely. The loneliness ends up driving through a genetic process called human social genomics or through the genetic process. Develops more inflammatory sites at times. They get called or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and so, if you really want to get the root cause of things, you’re going to have to understand that part of it. We’ve got that topic in the summit, too.

That’s been super fascinating work they’re doing in UCLA stress lab. I’m really excited to share it with the world because I feel like this might actually be the biggest deficit in modern America. We all live in our own little houses. We all think we have to have our own lawnmower. We all source out things now from random strangers. The Uber comes, you don’t know that guy. You stay in someone’s Airbnb. We don’t have the same quality connection that we used to. That’s a huge opportunity for health creation and that’s some of the work that I want to do is to help doctors to understand. Also I think the healthiest thing that anyone could do is to find someone else who wants to be healthy and become friend with them. Because that accountability, that support, that vulnerability is truly healthy and transformational but also free.

Robyn:                    Well, that’s very fitting. That’s a great point to segue to inviting folks into your summit is you are on the Your High Vibration Life podcast. You’re exactly right. I wouldn’t discount that at all. I’m looking forward to seeing more data and more evidence that the strength and quality of our relationships and our connections and our communities that we live in and our sense of purpose. It’s more than that. It’s our sense of purpose is foundational to our physical health. I’m a psychotherapist so of course, I love that whole topic. The book, Vibe is very much in keeping with what you’re exploring in some of your later days in your summit. Because as you raise your vibration, it’s not just that you drink enough green juice or that you ate enough plants.

Those are huge but you look at the blue zones, all five of those most long living communities in the world, they didn’t just eat a lot of plants. Everyone knows I’m a big fan of eating more plants, finding ways to do it, finding the easy ways, finding the organic ways. All five of those communities were also people who were connected to three generations. They could walk around and go visit a friend. They had meaningful relationships of that and so I think you’ve had on something really important. I’m really excited to hear that talk in your summit. I love to sign up for a really good summit. I don’t promote very many of them. I believe in James and what he’s doing.

I believe his mission and purpose driven and he’s on a mission to make functional medicine or these kinds of medicine that have been out of reach for people who are limited by their insurance and haven’t been educated in what else is available out there. They are making it more accessible to all of us. Sign up at James, tell us just a couple more things you’re excited about that are going to be in the summit coming up in August.

James:                     Yeah. When you register, you will get an awesome guide that we’ve prepared for free. It’s called the 10 ways to save money on healthcare in the Trump era and beyond. It’s a book that I put together basically bringing together all of the best strategies that we’ve seen, paying cash, being part of the healthcare sharing ministry. Not getting a chronic disease that’s lifestyle driven. We put together a great guide on that. That’s super valuable to people. With the summit itself, one of the things, there’s a great talk in there. All kinds of cool stuff in there but some that might be particularly interesting to your group is looking at methylation. Methylation is an understanding of how the body detoxifies. If you sign up, one of the things you’ll get to see, I actually did something a bit wacky, Robyn.

I did all my genetic testing. I had my genetics interpreted. As part of the summit, you’ll actually get to see me having my genetics interpreted live. When I did it, because I did it last week. I recorded it. I had no idea what it was going to say. I asked her to tell me, “Look, do I have cystic fibrosis or something? Do I have something that’s really bad?” The answer is no but I was like, “Okay. I’m going to record this in real time.” I have to say I wasn’t really sure as what to expect honestly. I didn’t really know what I hear. There were some super empowering information that came as a result of it. One thing that I’ve always struggled with is weight. What I realize from my genetic test is that my satiation is dysfunctional.

If I’m in a buffet situation, I could eat a ridiculous amount of food and not even realize that I’ve done it because other people would be satiated by one slice of pizza whereas I could eat a whole pizza. Now, I’ve known that about myself and I just put it down to the fact that I’m incompetent or felt bad about myself for it. It was really empowering to see that, “No. That’s a genetic susceptibility based on the way that I process fats and the satiety.” Now, I know not to put myself in a position where I could eat an unlimited amount of food like a buffet or dinner or whatever. Knowing these things about myself, I can control my environment to a degree that I put myself in a position to make the right choices. It’s super empowering for me.

You’ll be able to hear that. We’ll give recommendations like which tests to get, whether you want to do genetics or you want to do metabolomics. More and more labs are going directly to consumers so you get all of them and you can look at that information. It’s also its early days. I would say understanding this in the beginning is useful. I just saw this ad the other day. I have to just add Robyn. I saw this video on Facebook the other day where they took people who are very nationalistic about themselves. Whether they thought they were 100% whatever they think of themselves. Like in your case, Mormon, you think you’re 100%. You trace the blood lines. You start looking at your genetic profile you realize, actually most of us are a mixture of a lot of different things.

I have to say I think that by itself could be a super empowering way of reducing racism. Because if everyone realizes they’re a bit of everything, it’s much easier. It’s much more difficult to think that there’s a them and an us. We are right and they’re wrong. I think the potential for this movement is not just in health but in solving some of our deeper social conflicts. I’m just really proud to be putting this out into the world. I feel like the response is going to be very strong. I feel like on average, this is going to be a net positive to medicine and to society.

Robyn:                    Well, it’s really exciting. I have one more question because that’s a great thought. We put ourselves in little file folders. I’ve always thought that my people all came from Sweden and England. I go back to people on the European continent but wouldn’t it be cool if I found out that I got a little exotic Indian or African in me? That certainly would make you feel more connected to the universe, which we need so much more of. We are electron exchanging with people in other parts of the universe. Living beings and people on the other side of our continent or the world. I love anything that flattens that for us. Tell me is it going to be in the summit? If not, can you give me a little tip here. Give my readers a little bit of information about if I get one of these tests, my understanding is this is pretty complicated.

A lay person can’t just look at it and know what to do with it. Are you going to tell us who to get to interpret it? Because I hear that a lot of functional practitioners are getting a lot of deep training to be able to do that. Like you said, there’s a scarcity of people out there and lots more people who want access to functional medicine than can actually get it. If you don’t have anything in the summit for that, any thoughts before we go?

James:                     We do have that. Actually I want to just maybe give a spoiler to one of the things that you’ll learn in the summit. What I would be very weary of is any company that will do your genetic testing and then recommend supplements off the back of it. Just without any physician. That is happening. That speaks to what I would say is 1.0 genetics or maybe 2.0 whatever where everyone thought that the individual SNPs were really important. Many doctors even in functional medicine went down the route of getting people’s genetic testing and treating the SNPs. Seeing what SNPs they had and treating them. That is emerging as not being the best plan. That hasn’t worked. It hasn’t improved outcomes.

What is working and what does improve outcomes is using this information in the context of more solid information. Let me give you an example. This is an example that was given a few times during the summit. People went crazy for MTHFR. MTHFR is a gene mutation. Lots of people know about it. If you have certain mutations, you’re not going to be as effective at detoxing mercury. That’s just what MTHFR does. Now there’s plenty of places where you can go and get your MTHFR tested and then as a result of that MTHFR test, suddenly now you’re going to take a bunch of folate because that’s what it demands. Now, that’s not the end of the result. Because what you really need to do is you need to take that MTHFR test. If you are positive, you need to see what it’s actually doing in your biomarkers.

You need to go into the house and see what’s going on. Typically, what you’ll see is if the MTHFR is reducing the detoxification, the knock on effect will be something like raised homocysteine that is causing all these different things. My recommendation is that, I do think that by and large most functional medicine doctors are doing the right type of thing. We will have a recommendation of a list of practitioners but Robyn, we are building back with new. We want to be a place where people can get that kind of information and have a health professional that helps them interpret it. It may not be a doctor but what it will be is super empowering and will help you to take action in the right direction while individualizing for you.

Our goal with what we’re doing in all of our organizations is to facilitate an army that is capable of helping people with this kind of stuff. It’s not going to look exactly like you expect it to look but we’re building it. We’re launching it at the summit.

Robyn:                    Glad you touched on a couple of things there. One of which was you and I before our interview were talking about because you and I have known each other for a couple of years. I was talking about how one of my frustrations with functional practitioners and I was sending people here locally to someone just because of the types of treatments that this clinic offered. There aren’t very many who do. There are types of treatments that I believe and I was sending people there. I went there myself when I lost my hormone practitioner and had a really bad experience. I was telling you how it seems like some of them, they test for MTHFR and then they slot you into whatever their supplement is that they sell.

There’s nothing wrong with supplements. My point here is not, if someone sells you a supplement, they’re a quack. That’s not my point. My point is, I would like my practitioner does more with my lab results than slot me into a suite of products that they rep for. That’s my point. Glad you mentioned that because I asked Libby Darnell who is a practitioner in Chicago. She’s fantastic. We’re coming out with a protect yourself from EMF video course soon. Totally love that girl. She told me. I was driving her to the airport. I said, “How many people have MTHFR?” Because she was talking a lot about it and how she tests for it. A colleague of hers who’s getting some deep training in how to decode these genetic tests and help people with their testing. She said, “90% of people have the MTHFR SNP.”

There’s worse and there’s better even within that. Let’s end on let’s not use our genetics to give up, to lack hope. Let’s recognize that 90% of it is our lifestyle. There’s so much we can do. Let’s look at genetics as another set of clues. Anything else you want to say, James?

James:                     No. Just thank you. Thank you, green smoothie girl community. Yeah. I’m really excited. The future of medicine does include you, Robyn. That’s one of the things that I think we really have to see is that if you’re the person that’s inspiring people to make changes and improve their health, like you’re a part of this new medical system that we’re creating. All the people that are following you and I’m taking your recommendations, this is the kind of what the new system looks like. Content is a part of it. Community is a part of it. Coaching is a part of it. All of these things can happen in between you and the medical system. I think the biggest thing that we’re looking to do is just develop trust.

Trust is being abused my medicine. No one really has a fiduciary. Tony Robbins when he blew the line on the fact that most investing, you think you invest as a fiduciary or invested guidance. Actually, he’s selling this thing off the back his mutual friend or whatever. It’s the same thing in medicine. We’ve got to develop trust. I hope that this genetic summit will go further to helping people to trust in what we’re doing. Over time, building this asset of trust is our number one goal. Thanks for having me on. Thanks for doing all the work you do. It’s been such a pleasure to be part of the show. Look forward to welcome you guys on the summit.

Robyn:                    Well, it’s lovely to have you, too, James. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon. I think I see you next week. Thanks so much, James. Everybody, go live your high vibration life.


One thought on “Ep.47: Interpreting Your Genetics with James Maskell”

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  1. Shila Fisher says:

    I LOVED this episode, the speaker and the message. Thank you! I was listening in the car and found so many of his missions resonating for me and I all but shouted “It’s about time!”. Creating a functional medicine ‘wellness care’ system is far overdue in the US and we are so far behind the world in understanding and supporting natural, holistic wellness practices and practitioners. I am looking forward to learning more and will be purchasing his summit so I can listen to all of his esteemed speakers.

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