What We Do (And Don’t) Know About Viruses - Dr. Michael Ruscio, DNM, DC

What We Do (And Don’t) Know About Viruses

What Virologists Say About The Gut Microbiome And COVID-19 with Richard Jacobs

Podcast guest Richard Jacobs has done his own exploration into viruses by interviewing several virologists on his Finding Genius podcast and for his book, Finding Genius: Understanding Viruses: 30 Questions, 25 Geniuses, 100 Amazing Insights. The data collected provides insights that may be familiar, like how viruses are connected to various conditions and diseases. However, some information in this podcast may be new to your ears. Listen in to our discussion and prepare to hear new information about viruses.

In This Episode

Introducing Richard Jacobs … 00:44
Questions About Viruses and their Virility … 04:34
The Virus of Focus: COVID … 09:09
Thoughts on COVID Therapeutics … 13:40
COVID Variant Confusion … 17:34
The Goal of the Finding Genius Foundation … 22:13
COVID’s Effects on Mental Health … 22:51
The Promise and Caution of Microbiome Testing … 27:29
Why “Finding Genius”? … 33:32
Where to Find “Finding Genius” … 36:43

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Hey everyone. Today I spoke with Richard Jacobs, who is essentially a patient advocate, and he’s now dedicated himself to interviewing some of the top minds in various areas—cancer, virology, gut health—and then distilling down some of the best insights into podcasts and also a line of books. And we had him on the podcast to discuss some of what he’s been doing and finding in virology. We didn’t go too deep, but there was a few interesting insights in the field of virology. And then also some more observations, in terms of how one can most successfully navigate expert opinion and an interesting insight that sometimes the biggest name in the field of study may not actually be the most insightful. [The Genius Podcasts are] a very interesting resource, I think, for people who want to learn more in a given field and perhaps don’t want to start at zero in terms of reading books or listening to interviews. There’s Finding Genius for virology, for cancer, [and] for gut health. So that podcast is a resource and also some of the corresponding books—where they’re compiling some of the best insights from all of the podcast interviews. And so with that, we’ll now go to the interview with Richard Jacobs.

➕ Full Podcast Transcript

Open:

Welcome to Dr. Ruscio radio, providing practical and science-based solutions to feeling your best. To stay up to date on the latest topics, as well as all of our prior episodes make sure to subscribe in your podcast player. For weekly updates visit Dr. Ruscio.com. That’s DrRuscio.com. The following discussion is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply any of this information without first speaking with your doctor. Now let’s head to the show.

Dr Ruscio:

Hey everyone. Today I spoke with Richard Jacobs, who is essentially a patient advocate, and he’s now dedicated himself to interviewing some of the top minds in various areas—cancer, virology, gut health—and then distilling down some of the best insights into podcasts and also a line of books. And we had him on the podcast to discuss some of what he’s been doing and finding in virology. We didn’t go too deep, but there was a few interesting insights in the field of virology. And then also some more observations, in terms of how one can most successfully navigate expert opinion and an interesting insight that sometimes the biggest name in the field of study may not actually be the most insightful. [The Genius Podcasts are] a very interesting resource, I think, for people who want to learn more in a given field and perhaps don’t want to start at zero in terms of reading books or listening to interviews. There’s Finding Genius for virology, for cancer, [and] for gut health. So that podcast is a resource and also some of the corresponding books—where they’re compiling some of the best insights from all of the podcast interviews. And so with that, we’ll now go to the interview with Richard Jacobs.

Dr Ruscio:

Hey everyone. Welcome back to Dr. Ruscio radio. This is Dr. Ruscio, today here with Richard Jacobs, and we are talking about viruses—a timely topic—and, Richard, welcome to the show.

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah, thanks Michael. I appreciate it.

Dr Ruscio:

You’ve got a pretty interesting background. Would you mind just starting us there and painting the picture for us in terms of how you ended up in a timely field of viruses?

Richard Jacobs:

Well, if I wrote it all down, which I did once a long time ago, it makes no sense—even to me. It’s been like a really meandering journey. But with the virus info: I’d started a podcast myself—it was originally called Future Check podcast and now it’s called Finding Genius podcast—I had switched my focus to more medical-type issues after I got thyroid cancer about four years ago. Doing the podcast and interviewing people helped me to find better protocols, to help myself with the cancer, even though it’s not nearly as bad as other cancers. And, with the whole situation going on with COVID and everything, I had to find out more about that and not just listen to nightly news, which is just hysteria.

Richard Jacobs:

So I began to interview a lot of people in the field of virology. I had gotten up to well over a hundred different virologists. And in all those interviews I was starting to ask questions, as I got more familiar, that were stumping the virologists. So I said, “okay, let me put all of these stumper questions together and then re-interview the people that I thought were really top and make a book out of it.” And that led to a book that I put out called “Funny Genius: Understanding Viruses”. It was interviews with over 30 different virologists and tons of great insights from it. So it’s on Amazon Kindle and Audible. But that’s what came out of that project.

Dr Ruscio:

And what led to the interest in viruses specifically? From cancer to viruses, obviously there [is] a little bit of a shift; was there something in particular that led you there?

Richard Jacobs:

Well, it’s really overall health. So I’ve done hundreds of interviews, literally, on cancer, on all kinds of different conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the microbiome, virology, and bacteriology are definitely a part of that. So these are all just topics that are really entwined with health and viruses is a very huge part of them.

Dr Ruscio:

It may be impractical to try to go through all of those questions [you were asking experts] here, but I’m curious to hear what the consensus (or maybe lack thereof) was regarding Epstein-Barr virus. This is one virus that I was kind of excited about early in my career. And the more I read, the more there seemed to be inconsistencies in terms of even how one would interpret a basic blood test [such as] “Is this positive? Is this not positive?” And then the correlation to symptomatic presentation was always challenging to piece together. But I’ve got a few thoughts, but curious what you found here.

Richard Jacobs:

Well, I can take you in a more general direction. You know, I hate whenever people say this, but I’m not an expert on an Epstein-Barr. But here’s what I can tell you. So the crux of my conversations really centered around: are viruses alive? Do they have any level of cognition? And a lot of people say, “that’s absurd, they’re inert.They’re just parasites at best, etc.” But there are a number of scientists that do believe that viruses may be alive and may have some level of agency and cognition. I can tell you that one of the questions I asked—again, most of these had no answer—but a typical virus that affects someone, over time, does it become less virulent and more commensal with the host?

Richard Jacobs:

Let’s just talk about COVID for a second. So at first it appeared to be very virulent. And then after various variations, now it comes to be more systemic (a virus that may hang out in you, not really kill you, make you sick, but it may never go away, it may stay within you forever). So that was a question I posed is: do most viruses tend to go in that direction? Again, become less virulent and maybe at some point even indigenize with their host or just become commensal with it? You know, like herpes and other viruses like that. So that was one big one.

Dr Ruscio:

Sure. That’s a very interesting posit. And that does make sense, to some degree, in terms of: these organisms are at least theoretically evolving not to kill their host because then they can run out of hosts. So, to some degree that makes sense. And we see that even all the way through parasitology where some research centers are now putting worms back into people in attempts to balance the immune system and to reduce inflammation.

Richard Jacobs:

And you know, people have not only a microbiome, but part of that is a virome. So there’s phages that prey upon the bacteria that are in us, but there’s also many viruses that are in us that we need. And who knows how they interact with our bacteria and with our microbiome. And maybe they modulate and make our microbiome more healthy for us or less healthy. So there’s a whole unexplored dynamic there that I really couldn’t get answers to, but at least I wanted to make people aware of it.

Dr Ruscio:

And that is interesting because we’ve come to learn that with bacteria and with fungus and with even worms—which were previously classified as strict parasites—that a fair number of them have this commensal relationship with us. And viruses still seem, at least as far as I know (and I don’t go very deep into the world of virology, admittedly) but they don’t seem to have shared that same shift in how we look at them, or at least from what I’ve seen. So it’s a very interesting question and thought that you pose there.

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah. And here’s one of the questions that came out of that. If an average virus is 50-100 nanometers and me, the host (I’m one and a half meters tall), it’s a vast expanse of 10 orders of magnitude difference. So how could a virus so small—and I know there’s a lot of them, I understand that seems to be the argument—but how could there have been quintillions of successful infection events when a virus is so small and supposedly so inert? How does it get into me? How does it get to the right target cells? How does it find the right receptors? How does it dock with them? You know, it’s a tiny, tiny, tiny thing in this vast expansive host. How does it find its target so many times throughout history?

Dr Ruscio:

Sure. Yeah. I mean all fair questions. And with the obvious virus of focus right now being COVID, was there a lot there that you discussed? I’m not sure when these interviews were done, if it was early on in the understanding of COVID or if it was more recently, but obviously I’m sure our audience is very curious to hear anything that came up from those interviews regarding COVID.

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah. There was debates with some people on [whether] the structure of SARS COVID 2 made sense. Did it appear to be engineered or not? So there was questions around that. There was of course the question of variation. The news has said, “oh, there’s a new variant, there’s a new variant.” But I have a friend that works for the CDC (I can’t name him) but he told me October of 2020 that there was already hundreds of thousands of variants. Because it’s an RNA virus. It varies tremendously. Every time it infects a host, it varies. So, I kind of found that odd that the news would say, “oh, there’s this new variant.” Well, there’s hundreds of thousands of new variants. Why is one of particular interest or concern? So those are some of the things that I have uncovered.

Richard Jacobs:

So here’s something interesting. So I asked people, “supposedly SARS COVID 2 enters through the ACE2 receptor; does anyone have a paper where they have an electron microscopy showing that?”—midway through this event. And a lot of people said, “oh yeah, it’s out there.” And then when I look in the literature, I see nothing. And then when I go back to these people I say, “can you send over the paper or papers in which this was elucidated?” They can’t do it. They go, “I’m sure it’s there. I just can’t find it.” So I thought that was very unusual. So there’s just been a lot of, unanswered questions surrounding it. And I don’t want to push the conversation in one way or another but that’s what I discovered in interviewing people.

Dr Ruscio:

I suppose that with many areas there’s going to be controversy, but I guess controversy is also different than unanswered questions. And I mean, to your point, there are certainly certain “truths” that have been repeated enough and they just hit this tipping point where people kind of expect them to be true and don’t really question the underlying evidentiary basis for those claims. Interesting regarding the ACE2 receptor. Any other controversies that you think are worth pointing to regarding SARS2?

Richard Jacobs:

Well, there’s lots of them, but there’s no valid debate on it. There’s just, “oh no, that’s misinformation.” I mean you can think [masks are] effective or not. There’s been many studies I’ve read showing they’re not effective, but these seem to be ignored. And if you just look at it at first blush, what’s the average pore size in a mask? It’s on the order of microns. What’s the average size of a virus? It’s on the order of nanometers. So you have a 1000 full difference in order of magnitude. So if you just consider that, how effective could they be? And again, a lot of studies are looking into this but they just don’t seem to be coming out.

Dr Ruscio:

Yeah, there does seem to be a real grip on what conversations are allowed to circulate and which ones are not. Oddly it seems this has just become so polarized that it’s challenging to have a conversation. There are some. I think Peter Attia has done a good job having some round-table podcasts on this topic with reasonable discussions with Marty Makary from John Hopkins and Zubin from ZDogg MD (a website presence). But those don’t seem to have permeated very much into the mainstream conversations.

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, I’ve spoken again to a lot of people, but we’re just running into a lot of, “we don’t know.” And no one seems to be really, again, willing to explore this. Even the mechanism of (it’s an even more controversial field, unfortunately) vaccines. Even on a podcast, to talk about them is very difficult. I’ve gotten blow back from some of the people I’ve interviewed and all I’m doing is asking them questions. Why can’t I ask questions? Why can’t I put that information out? There’s really no answers, but what’s wrong to question things? To say the science is settled, I think is just wrong.

Dr Ruscio:

Right. No, fully agreed. And one of the questions that I think deserves more attention is therapeutics. I’m assuming this is a question that’s come up regarding COVID therapeutics. Is there anything in there that you found insightful, promising, interesting?

Richard Jacobs:

Oh, many things. I was sick and my whole family was sick with COVID about six months ago. And we did all the therapeutics that were demonized, and they all helped, and none of us are dead and we’re all fine. No long haul, no nothing. So, all the things that we did—I don’t know if I can name them—but certainly didn’t kill us and seemed to help tremendously.

Dr Ruscio:

And in terms of the scientists that you’ve interviewed in virology, what was the tone there in terms of (and again, I’m assuming it’s going to vary) were there some who were seeing results in the experimental therapeutics that they were using? That being said, I also think it’s important to factor those in with a grain of salt, because sometimes you have the practitioner who’s drinking his/her own Kool-Aid and fall into confirmation bias. But anything there that you feel is worth sharing?

Richard Jacobs:

Well, it’s up to you, if you want me to bring up specifics.

Dr Ruscio:

Oh yeah, please.

Richard Jacobs:

I don’t want to cause you any problems, you know.

Dr Ruscio:

No, please.

Richard Jacobs:

I mean vitamin D never hurt anybody. Zinc supplementation never hurt anybody. Nebulizing with a mixture of half hydrogen peroxide, half salt water literally produces immediate beneficial lung function results. I’ve personally experienced it. So has my wife and several other people I’ve spoken to. Ivermectin, I don’t know whether it helped or not, but that was also part of the protocol. Monoclonal antibodies. You know, we had Regeneron that definitely seemed to help. When we had it, that evening we already started to feel a little bit better and by the next day we were dramatically better. So, all these things were incredibly helpful. I added into the mix little things, like making sure I stood in the sun every day for 10/15 minutes. But these handful of things, we did them all and they all helped. And again, all these things have been demonized, which I think is kind of crazy.

Richard Jacobs:

I do have a couple of examples of—actually four—different people I know that have taken Remdesivir and that seemed to do nothing for them. And that seems to have been confirmed by the literature too. I don’t know of anyone that has been on a ventilator and survived. But I do know that, the people on vents, have a very, very high likelihood of not making it. I’ve seen and heard those stats from various people. So this is just some of the dynamics that I’ve seen.

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Dr Ruscio:

And have you been following the monoclonal antibodies closely enough to have a sense of the claim that the Omicron variant is not successfully treatable with the monoclonal antibodies?

Richard Jacobs:

Well, I can tell you this in terms of variants: when we were sick, Delta was the in thing and people said, “oh, did you have Delta?” And I realized this, they don’t tell you on the test. And I started asking and asking and asking, and I’ve yet to find anyone. And I’ve asked hundreds of people, “Were you tested for COVID?” “Yes.” “What was the variant on the result paper?” “They didn’t say.” So, I know it requires a separate test. I don’t think it’s being done. It may not be done at all. So for people even to say that someone has or doesn’t have this variant, I don’t know if there’s any evidence to support that

Dr Ruscio:

I would assume—and you asked a great question—there are certain hospital centers that are probably ground-zero for seeing the worst of the worst cases, that have the ability to do some type of rapid identification of strain. Although I’m purely speculating there, but I’m assuming it’s probably a small sampling from hospitals across country. And then a spike in a different variant is probably used to extrapolate that this is the new, dominant or near-dominant strain in circulation.

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah, it could be. I have no clue. I mean, I was even thinking of offering a bounty of a couple thousand bucks to someone that could show me a test where they show the variant. I was thinking about publicly offering that. I don’t think I’d get any takers. Well, other things on the testing: no one has ever told me what the cycle threshold was of their particular test, no one’s ever told me what the count of the results of virus-like particles were needed to trigger a positive result—because [with] the PCR test you go through doublings if there’s any viral material, so when you get to the end result after X number of doublings, what’s the threshold?—is there a threshold on the number of viral particles that say, “okay, you’re over, you’re positive”? How’s that correlated with cycle threshold? So none of this stuff I’ve seen in anyone that I’ve spoken to that has results about it, which is also concerning to me.

Dr Ruscio:

Now are you referring to lay people? Because I think it is important here to draw a few distinctions. I agree with your point, on the one hand, in that validation of testing should be gone through. And this is something that we’ve criticized repeatedly on the podcast, that—especially in the realm of integrative medicine—there’s all these labs popping up, making claims that are supported by [something] like an in-office study of 20 people with IBS versus 20 people who are healthy, which is nowhere near any good validation standard. In this case, I’m assuming that the validation has taken place in some research center or hospital center and then the test is pushed out to the public. And most people in the public—and probably also many of the patient-care-facing nurses or hospitalists— aren’t probably kept in the know. Just like they’re probably not kept in the know in terms of what is the underlying methodology of a TSH that they’re using at the hospital? [Or] a blood reference lab? To a greater/lesser extent, there’s probably some assumptions by the clinicians working that the tests they’re being given has gone through adequate validation.

Dr Ruscio:

So let’s try to clarify this. Where is [your criticism] targeted to? Where do you think the source of the problem is here?

Richard Jacobs:

Well, the source of the problem, I think, is no one knows and no one’s asking.

Dr Ruscio:

Right. But we need to sharpen up the “no one knows”. Are you asking people who are responsible with validating the test? Or are you asking point-of-care providers—who wouldn’t really be responsible or we wouldn’t reasonably be able to expect them to have that knowledge off the top of their head?

Richard Jacobs:

Right. No, I’ve spoken to several companies that have developed their own tests. The answers are, “that’s proprietary.” So there is no answer.

Dr Ruscio:

Okay. So that’s definitely…If you’re speaking directly with the company and they either can’t or won’t divulge that, that would be a little bit concerning to me also. Sure.

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah. I’ve spoken to a couple individuals and companies that their job specifically is COVID modeling and I asked them, “oh, what do you see ahead?” And they said, “that’s proprietary too.” So I really haven’t gotten any answers from people that would be in the know, that are close to the real information.

Dr Ruscio:

You also in your work have this—I believe it’s a nonprofit—organization that’s tied in with patient education, but can you tell us a little bit more about what work you’re attempting or mission you’re trying to accomplish there?

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah, I created, from the podcast, the Finding Genius Foundation. It’s a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. So, part of the work, actually, I did fund a study into looking at the microbiome effects of people that were sickened with COVID. So we definitely got a signal there. And that’s still in the stage where a paper is going to be finalized and written up on it.

Richard Jacobs:

But the other main project. What I’ve seen, from many people I’ve spoken to, is anxiety has been ramped up and depression and domestic violence and all these mental issues over the past two years. So I see that as a shadow cast by everything that’s been going on with the COVID situation. And it’s huge. It seems to really be affecting, countless millions of people. So with the Funny Genius Foundation, I have a couple of researchers that are looking into all the different possible treatments for anxiety and depression and trying to get essentially a summary document out there on everything known, everything that’s possible to help treat yourself, [and] now that you’re aware of it, you can maybe make a better, more informed decision about what you want to do. Do you want to take SSRIs? Do you want to go for cognitive behavioral therapy? Whatever it may be. So there’s no recommendations in there, but it’s a massive literature survey on what’s out there to at least show people what’s possible.

Dr Ruscio:

Right. Well, I’ll second that observation. Just looking at some of my friends and colleagues, it seems that especially women who have just had children or have young children seem to be particularly amenable to fear and anxiety around this topic. And I partially get it, but it just seems to have hit that subpopulation (again, taken just from what I see in friends and family circles) particularly hard.

Richard Jacobs:

Definitely. Over this past Thanksgiving, I was at Thanksgiving with several dozen people I’ve known for decades, and there were four or five sets of teenagers there. And in conversations with the parents, they said their children are anxious, their socialization has been impeded by all this, and they’re struggling on how to help their kids. I have teenage children too and I see the impact in them as well. So I’ve been searching for ways to try to help them to be more normal, frankly. I’ve told them, “I’m sorry. I grew up, what I think, in a more social and free way.” And I really worry about the current generation. Especially in light of what’s going on. It’s really, really I think impacted them very, very badly.

Dr Ruscio:

Yeah. That’s a great point. I mean, already, to some extent you could argue that they’re starting off a little bit behind the eight ball with social media kind of skewing, especially, adolescents. I’ve heard some stats that— especially for adolescent girls—social media can be increasingly and especially deleterious to their mental health development, I suppose you could say. And then you add [COVID] on top of that and yeah, that does seem kind of like a one-two punch that’s pretty nasty.

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah. I mean, I’ll leave them nameless, but I’ve seen research conducted by one of the largest social media companies that shows several of these products that lead to more self harm in young girls, more suicide ideation, more depression, more anxiety. And yes, it hits young girls—teenage girls and younger—particularly hard. Again, you’re looking at idealized profiles online. It’s led to more anorexia, bulimia, again, self-harm, all kinds of problems. It’s really, really, really deleterious. And I really don’t know what the end result’s going to be. And the whole virus situation has pushed everyone online and reduced social interaction, big time, and made people afraid to interact. And it’s just a big problem.

Dr Ruscio:

Yeah. And it’s interesting you mentioned the microbiome associated with this. Obviously I have, I guess you could say, a bias here—although I try to filter my bias through scientific analysis framework—but we do know that probiotics is just one gut-directed therapy [that] had been shown in a number of clinical trials to reduce depression, also anxiety. Less robust data for anxiety, but there’s data for both. And also to reduce the incidence and severity of upper respiratory tract infections, including COVID. So that’s, potentially, one therapy that may help with this situation. Although I think it’s going to need to be much more holistic than just a probiotic. And getting people talking to one another on their devices less. Potentially some type of therapy, but that’s one data point I’ll kind of throw out there.

Richard Jacobs:

Well, in regards to microbiome, I thought of something interesting that I think would be very helpful. At some point in the near future, I believe everyone should get their microbiome tested every six months. So at least you have a baseline. Then if you get sick and it’s something chronic or something really deleterious, you can at least compare: what does it look like now compared to the last X number of years of my baseline? Let’s say you do it once a year. And I think that would definitely lead to, “okay, you have 30% more bifido bacteria now that you’re sick with lupus (I’m just making this up) versus before.” Or, “now you have IBS [as] we could see that these predominant bacteria in your microbiome have changed dramatically.” So at least that would open up some thinking on, okay, perhaps if we restore the microbiome back to this healthy state, would that help the person? So I think that would be a very useful tool that will lead to a lot of beneficial research on it.

Dr Ruscio:

And I think this is what American Gut, to some extent, is trying to do on the population level, is look for microbiome correlations to various levels of health or disease. The really unfortunate thing here, and I think that’s going to make that challenging, is you have other companies—for which I’m tempted to name, but I’ll leave them nameless—you can easily find online who are offering direct-to-consumer microbiome tests along with supplement recommendations which there’s zero evidence to support. And I would argue it’s actually going to do more harm than good, because when you put a inaccurate lab marker in between a patient and their therapeutic recommendations, you actually make it harder for them to do the right thing because they’re treating a test. And not only is treating tests, in many cases, not the best way to go, it’s far worse when you’re treating an inaccurate test. So I share your hope, but I also see some snake oil that’s murkying some of those waters, sadly.

Richard Jacobs:

Well, years ago I went through various companies to do microbiome testing. And for the longest time they would give you no guidance. They would say, “you have 20% of this and 8% of that.” And I was like, “okay, what do I do with that?” There was no guidance. And now, like you said, that’s morphed into, “oh, try this supplement or eat more broccoli.” Or whatever it is. Again, who knows where that’s going to go? But I think at least it would be good if people—just once a year—got their microbiome sampled so they have just some longitudinal data on themselves. I mean, a comment I’ve heard for many people is, “oh, everyone’s microbiome is different [so] there’s really no clear signal on what good or bad health is.” Okay. I understand. But for an individual, if you’ve been sampling your microbiome for the past 10 years and now something happens to you, I think that may be very useful for your medical staff to look at and say, “okay, for the past 10 years, [you’ve] been stable and now it’s different.” Or, “for the past 10 years, [you’ve] been trending in this direction, and now it’s really trended in that direction.” Maybe that would help for more personalized treatment.

Dr Ruscio:

Yeah, I think from a research perspective, yes. What gets really problematic is when (and unfortunately this happens a lot) clinicians look at that data and they start treating that data while they ignore clinical trials. And it’s an important point to clarify, that if we have a body of evidence that shows how to treat people and that’s ignored because we’re trying to now treat lab markers, that can actually be worse for patients and for patient outcomes.

Dr Ruscio:

So it’s a delicate balance of gathering that data and then using that more so in a research setting to then generate hypotheses, test those in small clinical trials, and then the tests that are successful can be brought to clinicians and then vectored to patients. But, unfortunately, that whole process in between testing and having viable treatment recommendations has just been thrown out. And a lot of times, again, what you end up seeing is people treating numbers. You see this all the time, where people come in with low bacterial scores and then they’re force-fed prebiotics and they flare. Because it’s not quite as easy as, “we see this imbalance and then we can treat that imbalance directly.” Because some of what you see in the microbiota is actually an indirect result of what’s happening in the host, not a direct result of microbiome. So some of the ways to fix what you see is not directly treating the number of low or high bacteria.

Dr Ruscio:

But anyway, I agree with you in the point that gathering that data is important. It’s the first step. The alarm I’m trying to sound is we have to be careful how quickly we use that to make treatment recommendations.

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah. That makes total sense. Yeah. The story is always more complicated than anyone makes it seem.

Dr Ruscio:

Yeah.

Sponsor:

Hi everyone. If you are in need of help, we have a number of resources for you. “Healthy Gut, Healthy You”, my book and your complete self-help guide to healing your gut. If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, there is the clinic, the Ruscio Institute for Functional Medicine, and our growing clinical and supporting research team will be happy to help you. We do offer monthly support calls for our patients where I answer questions and help them along their path, health coaching support calls every other week, and we offer health coaching independent of the clinic for those perhaps reading the book and/or looking for guidance with diet, supplementation, etc. There’s also the store that has our Elemental Diet line, our probiotics, and other gut health and health supportive supplements. And for clinicians, there is our FFMR—the Future of Functional Medicine Review database—which contains case studies from our clinic, research reviews, and practice guidelines. Visit Dr. Ruscioo.com/resources to learn more.

Dr Ruscio:

With the “genius” aspect of the foundation aim, is that targeted to anxiety/depression or was there another aspect to cognition? Perhaps I was, motivating that.

Richard Jacobs:

Oh, no, this is a totally different subject. The reason why I called it “Finding Genius” is I noticed when I interview people I pick a particular field, and as I start interviewing people I get to know the lingo and the terms and I ask questions, and then as I interview more and more people, I can ask better questions. And I can get a picture of the field. You know? So like in cancer, I’ve interviewed well over 200 different researchers and scientists. So I feel like I have a top-down view of the industry and I can look and see what a lot of the major efforts are in a given field. And what I experienced is, if I go to 50 or 100 interviews in a given field, a few people I’ll speak to really are like exceptional. I can hear within the first five minutes. I’m like, “wow, this person is really, really knowledgeable about this.” And I consider them a genius in that. And it’s just a thrill when I find someone like that. So that’s why I wanted to call it “Finding Genius”, because I love to interview people and find out really what’s going on within an industry, get all these perspectives, and when I find the real geniuses it’s like an intellectual thrill.

Dr Ruscio:

Yeah. That’s actually a fascinating observation. I’m actually a little bit jealous you got the opportunity to interview that many people in a field and get that sense. And, as you’re saying that, I’m picturing you’ve probably got some researchers at large institutions who might just be a little bit complacent. And they, unfortunately, they’ve just kind of fallen into, “eh, this is my job.This is what I’m doing.” And the interview reflects that. But there’s that rare, grouping of people who are really passionate and they’re turned on still by what they do. And I’m assuming those are the people that really, to some extent, stand out.

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah. When I interview people that work for big companies, a lot of time they’re muzzled. They just can’t say much. So I’ve found a lot better results by interviewing professors, assistant professors, researchers. And a lot of these people, no one wants to talk to them. Even their own husbands or wives are like, “I love you, but I don’t want to talk about cytokine storms tonight.” Or whatever it may be.

Dr Ruscio:

Right.

Richard Jacobs:

And some of these people, like I said, are truly exceptional and it’s just, it’s awesome to hear that. It gives me new ideas and then I can take what they say back to the other guests and that’s what the books have become. So the book is the second round. So after I interview (again a hundred people in a certain area and there’s 5 or 10 that are really exceptional) I want to re-interview them now and go even deeper. And that’s what the virus book was about. We just put out a book on cancer. Same thing. So now I’m starting to take these topics and go even deeper and try to bring the best of who I’m finding to the world so they can read about it and learn.

Dr Ruscio:

Yeah. Well, that’s a great segue into just telling us a little bit more about where [listeners] can find these books and where they can learn more about you or the work, or generally plug in.

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah. If you go to FindingGeniusPodcast.com, that’s where all the podcasts are. There’s over 3000 of them. So, there are sections where you can go by topic. For the books themselves, they’re on Amazon Kindle and Audible. So the series is “Finding Genius”. “Finding Genius: Understanding Cancer”, “Finding Genius: Understanding Viruses”, “Finding Genius: etc.” So more books are coming. My goal is to put out two a year based on the interviews. But those really are the main places where you can find out probably everything you want to know. For the podcasts we posted on like 20 different channels. So iTunes, YouTube. If you look anywhere, you’ll find it.

Dr Ruscio:

Awesome. Well, Richard, it’s been really interesting chatting with you. And for people who want to get that synopsis of what the best minds in a field are saying on a topic, there you have it. Richard, anything else you want to leave people with in close?

Richard Jacobs:

Earlier something you said. I’m not looking for consensus. I’ve never found it. Consensus is boring in whatever industry you may find it in. But I’m looking for the unusual stuff that’s not consensus. But I encourage people to look (again, not just at consensus) but try to find voices and people that have very different opinions. You’ll learn more, I believe.

Dr Ruscio:

Great point. Maybe “summary” would’ve been a better term for me to use, in terms of summary from some of the best minds in the field. But I agree with you. Consensus is not always right. Especially because sometimes there’s one or two thought-leaders in the field and they sort of skew the entire field in their direction. Which may not be correct entirely, because people can have certain biases and they can bring those into the whole well of their subspecialty.

Richard Jacobs:

Yeah, definitely. And one more point in that. Why would people think different things? It’s not just they’re crazy or misinformed or they’re wrong. People think different things for good reason. And someone that’s been in a field that’s a researcher or scientist for 10, 15, 20 years, they’re not just going to make up crazy stuff. They have their opinion for a reason. They have a lot of experience. So benefit from that. Look to people that are doing different things that are high-level and you’ll be very surprised at what you see.

Dr Ruscio:

Yeah. Well, great stuff. I really enjoyed the conversation. Thanks for taking the time and keep up the good work.

Richard Jacobs:

Thanks Michael. I appreciate it.

Outro :

Thank you for listening to Dr. Ruscio radio today. Check us out on iTunes and leave a review. Visit DrRuscio.com to ask a question for an upcoming podcast, post comments for today’s show, and sign up to receive weekly updates. That’s DrRuscio.com.

 

➕ Resources & Links

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