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Episode 20: Using Herbs To Balance Your Microbiome And Detox Effectively

Episode 20: Using Herbs To Balance Your Microbiome And Detox Effectively

If you’ve been listening to the show, you’ve heard us talk about how antibiotics can wreak havoc on microbial diversity and cause symptoms from minor digestive upset to serious conditions like C. diff. Sometimes, antibiotics are entirely warranted and necessary to keep us alive, but more often, it’s possible to treat common conditions - everything from ear and sinus infections to SIBO - using targeted formulations of botanicals and herbs.   

On this episode, Andrea talks to Dr. Rachel Fresco, the founder, CEO and chief formulator for Bio-Botanical Research about how herbs provide support for localized and systemic microbial challenges.   

In this important and winding discussion, they touch on a number of important points, from how to protect yourself against microbial invasions like Lyme disease to how the gut helps with the body’s detoxification and the role of dental health in gut health.   

To learn more about Dr. Fresco’s company, visit She is also graciously offering listeners free shipping and a free sample of Dentalcidin toothpaste with any order using code BIOHM.  

On this show, you’ll learn:    

  • How Dr. Fresco got involved in the world of microbes (1:29)
  • Why botanicals and herbs can be just as, or more, effective as conventional medicines (4:14)
  • Isolated and systemic microbial challenges (7:49)
  • The increase in Lyme disease throughout the country (9:00)
  • The beneficial gut flora when taking botanicals (15:07)
  • How the gut helps with the body’s detoxification (17:12)
  • Research done with the botanicals to prove their effectiveness (22:14)
  • Conditions that don’t respond well to botanicals (27:17)
  • How oral health is connected to systemic health (30:14)
  • Safe entry products to get started (36:13)

BIOHM gut quiz 


Andrea Wien: Welcome back to the Microbiome Report, powered by BIOHM Health, a company designed to help you optimize your gut. I'm your host, Andrea Wien and today's episode is all about how botanicals and herbs can help balance your microbiome and provide support for systemic microbial challenges. This is a winding conversation that touches on a number of important points from how to protect yourself against microbial invasions like Lyme disease, to how the gut helps with the body's detoxification and the role of dental healthy in gut health.

Joining me today is Dr. Rachel Fresco, the founder, CEO and chief formulator for Bio-Botanical Research, most well known for their flagship formula, Biocidin. Dr. Fresco's focus for the past 30 years is in creating botanical formulas that are used as nutritional support by health professionals in challenging clinical presentations relating to GI health and systemic infections. I was very into this conversation as like many of our listeners, I'm always looking for ways to approach health issues without the use of pharmaceutical.

Stick around after the discussion for a special offer from Dr. Fresco just for our listeners. Let's jump in. Dr. Fresco, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Rachel Fresco: I'm so excited to be here today. It's wonderful to meet your audience.

Andrea Wien: Can you talk a little bit about your journey and how you found your way to working with this wild world of microbes?

Rachel Fresco: Well, it's kind of interesting. I'd actually gone to acupuncture school and had graduated with a degree in Chinese medicine. I was at the same time working for a veterinarian doing veterinary acupuncture and we were dealing with a lot of animals with difficult to treat infections. These were cows with Brucellosis and we had a whole kenned of dogs with Leishmania and other things like that that basically normal antibiotics weren't working for. And so we were trying using some of the real strong antimicrobial herbs and they were working.

Around the same time period at the Chinese herb company I was working for, Kan Herb Company in Santa Cruz, we were getting phone calls from doctors in the Bay area dealing with the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic. Back then there were no AIDS drugs and patients who had AIDS were basically dying of even diarrheal diseases like simple bacteria. They had these opportunistic infections and thrush and things.

And so I had sent some of the samples of the herbs we were using to some of the doctors to try because they didn't have anything else that was really helping. And the results had been very good and one of the doctors sent the herb formula to Genova Diagnostics. Back then, it was called Great Smokies Diagnostic Labs.  And the owner of the lab called me up and he's like, I'll never forget that conversation because it was just so out of the blue. He said, "I don't know who you are or what this is, but it kills everything." [crosstalk] I just started laughing and I'm like, "Who is this man?" And I'm like, "Well, yeah. Is that a good thing?" And he goes, "Well, yeah. We would like to put this on the comprehensive digestive stool analysis panel. I didn't even know what a CDSA was.

He explained it to me and I'm like, "Well sure. You're welcome to do that." Well, I had no idea that 30,000 doctors a month are sending their patients samples to that lab. All these doctors are hearing that there's this herb formula that's showing up as highly sensitive on the test, meaning that it was a good candidate for any yeast and bacteria that had shown up. And so those doctors started calling me and wanting the formula and basically, I had to start a company to deal with it. I had never had any intention of starting an herb company, but because I had been working at one and because I had knowledge of the herbs themselves, I had the tools and resources to get the products made professionally and start to do it. Steve Jobs started Apple in the garage, but I started my company on the kitchen table.

Andrea Wien: I love it. People have this idea that botanicals and herbs are less effective because they're natural, right? They come from the ground. They haven't gone through the labs that a lot of the pharmaceutical drugs have come through. But actually, they can be more effective than conventional medicines like antibiotics in treating microbial imbalances and pathogens. Can you talk about why that is?

Rachel Fresco: Well, in certain cases, that's definitely been what we've seen. For example, you'll send the botanicals to a lab and they're testing it on, say, E. coli.  And they'll test on a variety of different antibiotics and sometimes the herbs show up as a stronger effectiveness than the antibiotics. Sometimes they're slightly less, but they're always within a good enough range that they would be effective. I think one of the reasons that the botanicals work so well is because they're so multi-layered. When you're using more than one herb in a combination, you're getting like... you're hitting it from all sides. You're breaking the biofilms which we can talk about a little bit more. And you have a lot of different mechanisms. Breaking the lipid layers. There's a lot of ways that the herbs work that antibiotics only have a single action. And sometimes antibiotics only have an action on a particular class of pathogens, like maybe they only work on gram-negative bacteria.

But the botanicals seem to be more broad spectrum and they cross over into yeast and parasites and fungus and virus and a lot of other things. And as we know, in nature, these bugs don't live by themselves. Misery loves company I guess. And sometimes when you get a pathogen in the gut, for example, you might have a yeast and a bacteria. It's also more effective to use something that'll cover all those spectrums.

Andrea Wien: And I heard the term synergistic effect. Basically, the sum is better than all of the parts. When you are putting together these botanicals and herbs, they compound on one another and have a completely different effect, which is I think what you're talking about. Whereas an antibiotic is only targeted towards one.

Rachel Fresco: That's right. And I think the biofilm issue is possibly a bigger one than mainstream medicine was realizing 20 years ago. The bacteria always start to form these biofilms when they've been in the body longer than two weeks. And that's a slimy coating made up of a polymeric substance. And underneath that coating is a city. And both anaerobic and aerobic species of bacteria, yeast and fungus can be in there. Even Lyme live on a biofilm as has been shown. If you're not addressing that biofilm aspect in the body in some way either through agents like EDTA or other things that are chelative or the botanicals that break biofilms, essential oils that do that, you're just not going to be effective. Especially when it comes to chronic kinds of infections. Because the antibiotics work really well in an acute situation, but if you've had something like recurring UTI and how many courses of antibiotics has this person taken, but they still are getting UTI's, that's which you have to suspect that there's a biofilm component.

Andrea Wien: We actually did a whole episode on biofilms, one of our first episodes if people want to go back and listen to it. And Dr. Ghannoum, who is the co-founder of BIOHM has been doing research on fungi and biofilms for a long time and the BIOHM probiotic that we've developed is actually designed to break up biofilms. That's something if someone wants to get more information on that, they can go back and listen. I believe it was one of our very first episodes, episode three.

I do want to talk about isolated and systemic microbial challenges. For example, someone can have an infection or perhaps a condition like SIBO that's really isolated to one area of the body, but other infections like Lyme disease you mentioned can be found throughout the entire body. How can botanicals and herbs help with both of those different challenges?

Rachel Fresco: Well, I think that the nice thing about the herbs is you can use them for a specific issue like SIBO or a UTI, but at the same time, you're also doing some systemic cleansing. And when you put the botanicals in a liposomal format, which is what we've done with one of our formulas, then they go straight into the bloodstream.

Andrea Wien: Can you just describe what liposomal means for our listeners?

Rachel Fresco: Sure. A liposome is basically a teeny packet of lipid at a nano particle size, usually 50 to 100 nanometers. And when you encapsulate the herb in this nano particle, they basically can penetrate directly into the bloodstream from the oral cavity and they can go intracellularly where some of those pathogens hide out in Lyme. It can make targeting those infections easier when you have things in that delivery system if you're talking about a systemic infection versus something in the gut.

Andrea Wien: And we've seen such an uptick, no pun intended or perhaps pun very intended, in the cases of Lyme disease around the country. But I don't think people really understand how serious it can be. And how it can proliferate and really hide from our own immune system and even antibiotics.

Rachel Fresco: Right. I just saw some statistics and it's really mind boggling. They said that worldwide by 2050, 35% of the population will have one or more tickborne diseases. It's not just Lyme. It's Bartonella and Babesia and these other species that are taking along on the ride with the ticks.  And honestly, I don't believe it's just ticks. Think about it. Mosquitoes have a ton of blood. They're jumping from animal to animal. Fleas do. There's been some talk about the other vectors for spread of these diseases. There has been evidence that these things will pass through the placenta. There are children that are born that test positive for tickborne diseases.

I think that the best thing that we can do to protect ourselves or several things we can do. Number one, keep your immune system strong. Eat a healthy diet. Keep a lifestyle that's conducive to keeping your system able to fight things off. And secondly, when you do go out in nature, do everything you can to protect yourself from getting bitten. The minute I come in, I have property in the mountains here, we have a ton of ticks in the Santa Cruz mountains and 50% of them test positive for Lyme. It's Russian roulette if you get bitten by a tick.

When I come in, I just strip off my clothes and they go straight into the washer. I don't even put them in my dirty clothes basket because there can be ticks on there that are crawling around in my closet onto other clothes. It's just terrible. I spend less time, honestly, in the woods than I used to, especially in the spring when the ticks are really, really, really prevalent. I go to the beach for my walks. I go to areas that are away from the trees and brush. And then working to check your animals when you come in. My dogs even know what tick check means. I come in the door, I go "Tick check," and they flop down and roll over. Because they know. And you know what? This time of your you're almost likely to find one.

I think people should take it very seriously and like you said, when you get bitten by a tick, 45% of the time you might get a rash, but you might not. And you might get a fever and achiness and think you just got a flu in the summer and not realize that that was symptoms of having a tick bite. So it is really important that people take it seriously. I believe that the best thing to do if you get bitten by a tick is to go on a 21-day doxycycline regimen. The Center for Disease Control's idea that one pill of antibiotic is going to help you after a tick bite has shown not to be true. Most of the Lyme literate physicians are saying 21 days of doxycycline and then we use our botanicals on top of that ongoingly.

And then for people who have shown up positive for symptoms of Lyme, we want to get better testing for them. So I've been involved with a company in Finland that's developed a test called TickPlex. And that test covers all the different co-infections as well as Lyme and it's much less expensive and more sensitive and more broad than some of the existing testing. It's a new test that's just coming out in the United States, but you can get it through ArminLabs and they can ship it over to Germany. It's not that expensive to do it that way. It's less expensive than some of the tests here. But we are hoping to see a lab here in the US that will be able to do the tests soon.

I think that anybody who has symptoms of neurological signs or pains that move around the body, certainly night sweats that are new, fatigue that is new, things like that that come up, people should think "Could I possibly have been exposed to Lyme?" And get tested. I think the earlier that you treat it, the better. If you wait 10 or 12 years until you're seeing neurological changes, then it's an uphill battle at that point. Like you said, these things are very deep in the system, in the central nervous system. They're hard to treat. They're hard to detect. Everyone should take Lyme very seriously.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. It's something that I've been telling all of my friends and family about almost to the point of exhaustion where they're tired of hearing about it. But I've seen so many clients and people come through different practices that I've been at that are dealing with these really chronic symptoms that are, like you're saying, perhaps a decade old and it's just so difficult to eradicate at that point.

Rachel Fresco: Right. But we have seen good results with the botanicals helping these people. Whether that's in conjunction with antibiotics or on their own, we've gotten great feedback. I had one doctor herself actually. She was a medical doctor, she had Lyme. She had been in a wheelchair and she had bad neurological problems. She also had this problem where as soon as she would get up, her heart would race so badly, this really bad tachycardia. She let me know. She called to talk to me and she goes, "I just want you to know, I was using your liposomal formula and first time I've been able to walk around without having such bad tachycardia, my neurological pain and signs are almost gone." And she stopped using her wheelchair. And she said it was kind of a miracle. And she had done IV things and ozone and many, many other protocols including many, many courses of antibiotics and she had gotten some better, but using the botanicals had kind of bumped her up to the next level of wellness.

And I'm hearing that a lot from practitioners. I know Dr. Richard Horowitz give Biocidin to almost every patient along with his protocols and many other Lyme literate physicians nationally do.

Andrea Wien: Similar to an antibiotic, we talk a lot on this show just about the detriment of antibiotics and the impact that they can have on gut health. Obviously in situations like this, this is a time when you would want to be taking them. But do we see the same impact on the beneficial flora in the gut when we're taking the botanicals as well where it's wiping out a lot of the good and bad?

Rachel Fresco: Well, that's and interesting question. Some of the botanicals seem to have more of an effect on our beneficial flora. I've seen that the olive leaf extract can wipe out more of the beneficials than the other combination we use with the botanicals. We've tested over a thousand patients before and after. Their microbiome actually got better. Their diversity and number of beneficials got better. I don't think every herb is going to wipe things out the way that some antibiotics do. That being said, you always want to protect yourself by using probiotics. And so I developed a formula that has the spore forming probiotic strains along with a very high potency quercetin for anti-inflammatory activity and aloe and marshmallow for gut motility and healing the gut lining.

That formula, I just tell everybody just take one a day. It's really simple, it's very protective. The nice thing about the spore forming probiotics is that they can't be hurt by stomach acid or temperature or the antimicrobials and antibiotics don't kill them. That makes them easy to use.

Andrea Wien: The Microbiome Report is brought to you by BIOHM Super Greens.  A super greens formula that combines 31 super greens with prebiotic digestive enzymes and BIOHM probiotics, giving you a super charge in a single scoop. To check out BIOHM Super Greens, go to That's B-I-O-H-M health dot com. And make sure to use the code BIOHM10 to get 10% off of your order.

I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about how botanicals, you mentioned it briefly, some of these things in reducing inflammation and helping the body's natural detoxification systems work better. Which I think is something that gets lost maybe with more conventional medicines where we really can support the body in killing these things, but then also helping to clear them out. Can you talk a little bit about how the gut helps with the body's detoxification and the types of bacteria and fungi that we see that are really helpful in clearing out pathogens?

Rachel Fresco: Right. Like I was just mentioning, spore forming probiotics, they actually modulate the immune system to up regulate it. They also naturally produce their own bacteriocidal enzymes that will go in and have an antimicrobial effect. Certainly having the beneficial organisms there is going to be very key. Other things that are just really commonly used in herbal medicine like dandelion and red clover and things that promote urinary tract health, uva ursi and things that, those things help channel things out of the body. And one of the things I think is very highly overlooked by a lot of people, but I think it's one of the most important things is using binders.

We have a binder that's got clay and charcoal and apple pectin and zeolite and other things. And what that's going to do is as you're killing off any unwanted pathogens or if you're dealing with toxins that you may have ingested metals and things like that, these binders will help pick them up and absorb them and move them out through the colon. Some of the herbs are working through the urinary tract system as a detoxing and some are working through the colon and the binders typically work really well through the colon.

That's an important piece because people think that when they get a detox reaction or Herxheimer's reaction that that's good. And it is a good sign that you've stirred things up and that you're starting to move them out. But if you don't bind those toxins when you're mobilizing them, number one, you're going to feel crummy and maybe not want to continue your protocol because you don't feel good. Who wants to have a headache and be tired? I think it's important to only detox at the level that you can clear the toxins and you need to use things to support clearance.

I also like certain homeopathic drainage remedies for that. Some people need extra support before they even start to really detoxify. They need to open up the pathways first. And that's where homeopathics can be very helpful.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. I think this is something that I've talked to friends and clients about, that you can't just jump right into a detox, right? The channels of elimination have to be open, so you have to be going to the bathroom regularly. You have to be hydrated. You have to make sure you don't have leaky gut, right? For liberating all of these terrible things that we don't want in our body and they're supposed to be excreted through our digestive system and then your digestive system is leaky and open to your bloodstream, they're recirculating and potentially could be even more dangerous. So how important is it to work with someone before you start just willy nilly taking botanicals?

Rachel Fresco: Well, I think that it's always a good idea. The botanicals that we produce are professional grade and they're designed to be used with the support of a health professional or a nutritionist or someone who has a background in helping clients to work on these issues. I do think it's important and I do think using the binders is important. Like you said, I think that making sure that your diet is clean, that you're eliminating well, that you're really nicely hydrated. All of those things are key. And not to go overboard. Sometimes people think more is better. And that is definitely not the case when it comes to this type of cleansing. Slow and steady wins the race. It's better to take a month of gently having a healthy diet and gently bringing in these things rather than trying to do some seven-day program that you think is going to really help you and just end up making you feel worse.

Andrea Wien: And what types of organisms, I know you mentioned in passing bacteria, different yeast, viruses. But can regular infections, sinus infections, things that people are going to urgent care, their doctors for to get antibiotics because they think that's the only way, have you seen good results with botanicals instead?

Rachel Fresco: Oh yes. All the time. In fact, I had one ENT, I was speaking at the [inaudible] conference on autoimmune disease in Florida. And this man stood up and he raised his hand and I didn't recognize him and he goes, "You know, Rachel, you don't know who I am because I've been getting your products through a distributor on the east coast. But I just want to tell you my name and I'm an ENT physician and I've been using your products and making them into a nasal rinse for my patients and I've cut down on the surgeries in my practice by over 30% just by doing the nasal rinse for these sinus patients." I think that's really easy one to do and so we've been having people use a nice saline solution and adding a few drops of the botanicals and using that in a nasal rinse or a neti pot. And we have a moisturizing mist that's coming out that'll be ready mixed for that purpose.

Andrea Wien: I know a lot of people trust the antibiotics and some of the more conventional medicines because they have gone through some of the rigorous double blind trials and it takes quite a bit to get a pharmaceutical product on the market. Have you done any research projects with the botanicals and herbs that you're using to prove their efficacy?

Rachel Fresco: We have. For example, we did a double blind placebo controlled trial with the University of Louisiana on the immune response. What they said was that they had a problem with the athletes. These are either college athletes or program athletes or olympic people who routinely exert themselves very, very strongly and they have a suppression of the markers in the respiratory tract for their immune system. Which are called the SIgA. Secretory IgA. These markers were suppressed in these people and they wanted to know if using the botanicals would help. So they started using the throat spray version that we have and they applied it post exercise when they had tested positive for this immune suppression. And within 10 minutes, their immune system rebounded by 66%. That was a really huge, they were really shocked at how quickly that the botanicals helped to modulate the immune system to respond better. That bodes well for a lot of things. It bodes well for use of these in the gut as well because it's the same issue, where you need the immune system to be active.

We've also done a year-long study on Lyme. It was not a study in patients, it was an in vitro study. What they were looking at is will the botanicals kill these Lyme spirochetes. Will they break their biofilms. Will they be able to penetrate intracellularly into the pathogen and how would they be able to help or hurt at the same time with antibiotics. And those are the kind of studies we did with Lyme.

And then we've done studies that were more informal on SIBO and Candida and H. Pylori. We've had just so many reports of different kinds of things over the years. Genova, when they were running the botanicals through their sensitivity test, I believe they tested over 200,000 patient samples over a six-year period. That was a huge number. And every single time the botanicals were the most highly sensitive agent. Which means that they were the strongest thing. And so I think that there is plenty of evidence that botanicals work really well.

If you look in pub med, if you just do any research online, you type in botanicals and you name an infection, there's just so many papers all over the world people are doing this research. The drug companies will try to take an active ingredient like they did with olive leaf. They tried to take the oleuropein out of olive leaf and make it a drug. But what they found out was that it didn't really work. The mechanism didn't work until it got in the body. They couldn't make a patent out of it. And so they abandoned that research, but they had 10 years of research of its antiviral activity. And that's how we knew that olive leaf was such a good antiviral herb. 

I think that the research is out there. Certainly the biofilm research is out there. And a lot of the papers I read, one paper in Italy said that they basically told the research company the only way to get the benefit of the plant materials was to use the whole plant and forget about trying to take an active ingredient out. You needed all those components working in harmony. And here's why I think that's true. I think that in nature the plants had to evolve over millennia to fight off bacteria and funguses and things that could hurt the plant. But also to be friendly towards the benefit flora in the soil that then need to get their nutrients and on them topically. I think we borrow that adaptation from nature when we use the plants. And so lucky for us. We have access to them.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. And I think now people are starting to talk about this more and more. I think in the past, you didn't hear about botanicals. You didn't hear about herbs and perhaps because they are pretty inexpensive to grow. It doesn't require a lot of funding and money and things to get these out into the public. And so I think we're starting now to really understand again, because I think our ancestors probably inherently knew that some of these things were antimicrobial or antiviral or whatever the constituents might be in it. And now we're starting to really relearn a lot of that information which is so exciting.

Rachel Fresco: Yeah. You can look back at even the ancient Greek medical texts. Some of these plants that we're using today are all in there. They knew that they were antiparasitic. They knew that hypericum was antiviral. St. Johns Wort. And even though it's mostly known today for its mental health effect, it's actually a really antiviral herb. There's a lot of things that the Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine traditions have thousands of years of herb formulations and medical texts that are being validated by current research. 

Andrea Wien: Are there conditions that we know that don't respond well to botanicals?

Rachel Fresco: That's a good question. I think I haven't personally seen anything that was just, you're not going to be able to do this with herbal medicine unless you're at the point where, I think in the human body, if you have given it so many toxic things that you've shut down its own natural ability... I hear that high levels of prednisone, for example, in Chinese medicine they say it's very difficult to make progress with acupuncture and herbal medicine for a patient who's spent 20 years on high doses of prednisone. I've heard that. I think that it can't hurt to try with the herbs. Certainly their benefits are there. There's very little down side. You just want to make sure you're not allergic to a particular ingredient, that the quality of the herbs you are getting will actually help you. Because as a manufacturer, I can tell you that you can buy olive leaf that five dollars a pound or you can buy the kind that we get that's $200 a pound.

And so companies that are selling products really cheaply at big box stores, they're probably the quality is really low and they don't have enough active ingredients to really do the job. I would say work with a natural medicine practitioner of some kind, whether it's an integrative doctor or a naturopath or someone who has training and then use professional grade formulations. They are more expensive, but you do get what you pay for is what I have seen and found for myself.

For example, our olive leaf product, one or two capsules of that is equal to 10 capsules of some other brand. Then is it really more expensive if you only have to take one or two a day? I think that's important to realize. And if you're making things yourself, if you're growing things yourself, then follow trusted medical reference texts about preparation, how much to use, decoction time, all of that. Don't play around with this unless you're using good sources or have help.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. And I think it's similar for all supplements. The FDA is not regulating what supplements are out on the market so there's a big difference between getting a supplement from your healthcare practitioner and getting it off the shelf at Costco or Target or CVS which it sounds like it's a very similar situation with these botanicals.

Rachel Fresco: Yeah. I think that some things could be good, but I'd be cautious. And I think it's probably better to use trusted professional brands whenever you can for sure. And when you look at a vitamin too, if it starts having a bunch of ingredients that are not in forms that are absorbable, that's not going to do you much good either, right? If they're not chelated minerals and things like that.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. Absolutely. I know you have a line of dental care product or dental care product. Can you talk about our oral health, our gut health and our systemic health are all connected? Because I think this is an area that not a lot of people really understand or realize that these things are connected.

Rachel Fresco: That's right. So when you think about it, of course your mouth is part of your GI tract, right? And whatever's in your mouth, you're swallowing, you're getting things into your gut. And whatever's in your gut could be coming up and showing up in your mouth. Meanwhile, when you get plaque in your teeth, which are biofilms, right, and when you get your teeth cleaned or if you have bleeding in your gums, you're directly introducing bacteria and biofilms into your blood stream at that point. Just like leaky gut. Leaky mouth. And now, the American Heart Association is saying that 50% of cardiac problems could be related to dental bacteria. And now, Alzheimer's. Researchers are showing that dental pathogens are found in the brain of Alzheimer's patients.

I think it's really important to address the mouth as part of your overall health and wellness plan. And if you're just using a regular toothpaste, you're basically doing a little bit to clean your teeth and that's about it. But if you can introduce the botanicals and get rid of the biofilms and work against the bad pathogens and protect and build your immune system in your mouth, that's much better. So that's why I took our herbs and put them in dental formulations and we did a research project on that and we saw the number of oral bacteria and even parasites. I couldn't believe it. I saw the DNA analysis of one person's root canal and they had HPV virus. They had amoebas. And then a whole host of bacteria in that root canal cavitation.

And so by cleaning that out, the dentist cleaned it out, he used ozone to clean it and then used the botanicals and had the patient go home and swish with these botanicals. And then we went back in two months later, opened up the root canal site again, pulled out another sample for DNA analysis and saw wow, we just got rid of 30 of the bad players that were here at the site. And so this is showing a lot of improvement.

And then the other way we did testing was using a phase contrast microscope which basically looks at, under a microscope, what's in your mouth. You scrape the teeth and you see what's there. And some patients that had really bad gingivitis had spirochetes showing up in those slides. These are not Lyme spirochetes, but a different type of spirochete and they cause a lot of problem in the mouth. When we used to botanicals as a treatment and then went back six weeks later and did another slide, those patients no longer had these spirochetes and bacteria showing up. And at the same time, their gums stopped bleeding and their pockets depths were improving greatly.

Because this is such an exciting amount of progress, I think, in oral care, I'm looking to make these things more available directly to consumers in the next year.

Andrea Wien: Just so people understand, can you explain what a spirochete is?

Rachel Fresco: A spirochete is a type of bacteria. It looks like a corkscrew. And Lyme is a spirochete. Syphilis is a spirochete. And apparently there are dental spirochetes as well that that shape of them bores in if you can imagine and causes a lot of tissue damage. 

Andrea Wien: Thank you. I think that the research that's coming out around the root canal issue is really interesting. You touched on it briefly. Is it still beneficial to get a root canal? Or is it something that we should really be thinking about quite a bit more or potentially if it is something that we need, making sure that there is a botanical protocol along with it. What's your thought on where that whole controversy is going?

Rachel Fresco: I've talked to holistic dentists who tell me all root canals are bad. Don't get one. And I've talked to holistic dentists who said, "Well, in some cases, root canal can be okay. You just have to watch it." So I don't know the answer because I'm not a dentist. I'd say for sure you would want to be very cautious and using these botanicals. We put the formula in a liposomal version as well so it would penetrate into the gums better. And that seems to be working the best. And having people swishing with that twice a day after they brush with the toothpaste. And that protocol seems to be really helping. And I think it'd be good to work with a biomedical dentist for yourself if you can find one. There are several organizations across the country; American Holistic Dental Association, the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health, the IAOMT, IABDM. That's a few of the ones that I've heard of that maybe you can go on their websites and do a search and see if you can find a member of their organization in your area who is familiar with more holistic methods.

Andrea Wien: Okay. Are there any populations of people who shouldn't take botanicals aside from someone who's maybe allergic to something that's in a formulation? Is it safe for pregnancy for example or at different life stages? How do you think about that?

Rachel Fresco: That's a good questions. And some hers are safe in pregnancy and some are not. Most of the antimicrobial herbs are not recommended in pregnancy. If you look up, for example, in an herbal medical text goldenseal, you'll see that it's contraindicated in pregnancy. I think you can't make a generalized statement. Some herbs like rape seed extract in high doses could be slightly blood thinning. That's something that you might not want to take before surgery for example, right? There are some herbs that stimulate the immune system. So if you are having an organ transplant and you don't want to be stimulating your immune system, you shouldn't take those herbs. That's why I think if you have any kind of serious medical condition, don't even play around with this. Go to a doctor who knows what's good and what's not good for you.

Andrea Wien: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. If someone wants to get started in this, are there entry products that are pretty much safe across the board for people to start testing things out? Or is it really we need to find a practitioner that can help us wade through these?

Rachel Fresco: Well, I think that there are some things that are safe. Things like probiotics and certain herb teas and things that are... A lot of people like the medicinal mushrooms, right? I take those too. They're generally good in immune modulating. But if you do have a serious condition, I would check with your practitioner first. Some of the formulas we have, we have a Chinese formula that's just generally supportive to the digestion and helps boost the adrenals a little bit. Something like that is usually fine for anyone. It's innocuous. It's not going to throw somebody off balance one way or the other. I think that anybody can drink mint tea, right, and make their stomach feel better. Pretty much. Or ginger. Pretty safe. Most people do really well with ginger. And those are things I use every day. When I make my chai in the morning, I dump in extra ginger and extra cardamom because those are herbs that are really good for my digestion. I tend to have more of a damp constitution and it's foggy and cold here in Santa Cruz in the morning. And so you want to also think about how you use food and herbs according to where you live, the temperature and you're own constitution. 

That's where it's really fun to work with, say, an Ayurvedic practitioner or someone who can help you look at it from that perspective. Or a Chinese medicine person who can go, "Oh, well you have liver chi stagnation. Let's get you these kinds of foods and herbs." Or "This time of the month before your period, you should be using these things. And then after ovulation, you should use these others." There's a lot you can do to make yourself flow in a more balanced way using botanicals and using acupuncture and massage and other tools.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. I took an Ayurvedic cooking class or a series of cooking classes years ago and I just remember being so blown away by the way that they use herbs and spices to really modulate and regulate how you're feeling. And it was really eye opening and something that I've continued to do, like you were saying, with the ginger and cardamom in the morning. So there are safe options for people to be able to go out and start testing, I think, a culinary stance. Coming from that angle is-

Rachel Fresco: Absolutely.

Andrea Wien:...always a great way to start.

Rachel Fresco: And I'm sure you've seen this too where they said that just even eating curry so many times a week cuts down on your inflammation because of the using the turmeric. And there's a lot of things like that you can do. My friend Talia has a course online at Talia's Kitchen, which is an Ayurvedic starter school and she teaches people how to cook Ayurvedically and how to make little recipes and to do body scrubs and things according to their constitution. 

Andrea Wien: We can definitely link to that in the show notes so people can find that. This has been so insightful. Thank you so much for coming on and talking to us about this. If people want to learn more about your products or perhaps they are dealing with something like a Lyme disease of some of these other chronic conditions or maybe systemic infections, how do they get involved with your products? How do they find you? How do they find a practitioner that might be knowledgeable about them?

Rachel Fresco: Our website is B-I-O-C-I-D-I-N dot com. And on that website, you can read the general information about formulas and then if you need a referral to someone who could maybe talk to you over the phone, we do have a list of doctors that will do online consultations. And if you have a health professional that you work with that isn't familiar with our company, then we can help that doctor to understand the usage and so forth. We do not give direct consultations to patients or people in the community because that would be practicing medicine, which we can't do as a supplement company. But we can help direct you to the right people and we can work with the doctors.

Andrea Wien: Great. Well, thank you so much. We'll link to that again the show notes. And we really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today.

Rachel Fresco: Well, it's been great to be here and I hope that this conversation has been insightful.

Andrea Wien: It has. Thank you so much, Dr. Fresco. We'll talk soon.

Rachel Fresco: Bye-bye.

Andrea Wien: Thanks for listening to the Microbiome Report. This episode was powered by BIOHM Health. As a special gift for our listeners, Dr. Fresco is offering free shipping in a sample size of Dentalcidin toothpaste with any order off of their site. Head to to redeem or to our show note page at to find the links. As always, that's B-I-O-H-M blog dot com. I'm Andrea Wien and I'll catch you next time.


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