chronic illness

GM Foods, Glyphosate and Gut Health - Dr. Michelle Perro and Vincanne Adams

These foods have caused these issues. It’s cause and effect. And I want to get that clear. It’s not like, ‘Gee, we have no idea.’ Actually, we do.
— Dr. Michelle Perro

If health is the measure by which we humans are equipped to survive in our current environment, then our children are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine. One in 13 American children has a serious food allergy. Nearly one in 10 has asthma. One in five is obese. And one in 68 has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. The rate at which these and other chronic conditions have become commonplace (read: epidemic) over the past few decades is equally stunning: childhood food allergies have increased 50 percent since 1997; celiac disease has more than quadrupled over the past half-century, with rates increasing particularly among children; and serious mental disorders, once rare, are now expected to afflict 20 percent of children over the course of their lifetime. So what the hell is going on?

My guests today, Dr. Michelle Perro and Vincanne Adams, offer some stunning answers in their must-read new book What’s Making Our Children Sick? How Industrial Food Is Causing an Epidemic of Chronic Illness, and What Parents (and Doctors) Can Do About It. In it, they explore the connection between genetically modified foods, glyphosate (the world’s most widely used pesticide), and gut health, and make a damning case for the related rise in chronic childhood disorders since GM foods were introduced to the American public. 

GMOs have sparked endless controversy in the US, which is why it’s notable that Adams and Perro are far from the conspiracy-theory crowd: Vincanne is a professor and vice-chair of medical anthropology at the University of California, San Francisco, and Michelle is a pediatrician with over 35 years of experience in acute and integrative medicine (including as a former director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at New York’s Metropolitan Hospital). Here, they trace their own journeys from skeptics to activists and make a powerful case for why it's critical we move beyond the "GMOs aren't natural" argument. We also delve into Michelle's method for successfully treating children with chronic hard-to-diagnose health problems. So if you have a child with a chronic health issue (or if you yourself have a chronic health issue) and have been struggling to find answers, don't miss this episode!  

Here’s the breakdown of the show:

  • Medical anthropology, and Western medicine’s lack of focus on the health of our food

  • From skeptics to activists: The journeys that led Michelle and Vincanne to write this book

  • Tracing the path of microbiome impairment in the typical modern American child

  • What is making our children sick?

  • Moving beyond the “genetically modified food isn’t natural” argument

  • The shift to GMOs in the post-DDT era

  • Glyphosate, the shikimate pathway, and the human microbiome

  • The chronically ill patients Michelle sees, and her treatment protocol

  • How simple dietary changes can put the entire family on the path back to wellness

  • Why local food/“real” food and organic food are not one and the same

  • Spurring change in the mainstream medical community

  • What you can do to reduce your child’s toxicant load and reclaim your family’s gut health

Learn more about What's Making Our Children Sick? on the Chelsea Green website and Michelle's clinical practice on the Gordon Medical Practice website. Michelle also runs the website Michelle and Vincanne are on Facebook here and here. And check out the link to buy their book, below! 

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan. Want to chime in on this episode or have an idea for a future show? Connect with me via my Instagram page, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Let Nature Be Thy Medicine - Dr. Michelle Gerber

Upper left: The restorative waiting room at Dr. Gerber's office at GraceFull in Los Angeles (via )

Upper left: The restorative waiting room at Dr. Gerber's office at GraceFull in Los Angeles (via

What makes a naturopathic doctor is not so much which tools we use, but our principles…[it] amounts to having a different perspective on health and disease [that looks] at the body as a system that’s constantly trying to heal itself.
— Dr. Michelle Gerber

Groundbreaking physician Dr. Michelle Gerber joins the podcast this week to discuss naturopathic medicine -- a radically different approach to health and disease that is urgently needed in a modern world besieged by skyrocketing rates of chronic illness, and where few answers exist in modern medicine for those suffering, save for a disease name and a pill to treat the symptoms. I know few more qualified to dive into this topic: As a licensed naturopathic doctor, board-certified naturopathic pediatrician (the only in Los Angeles), and a certified professional midwife, Michelle is a triple threat primary-care physician perhaps unequaled even in the mainstream medical world. And as such, she not only has the holistic perspective of caring for patients from birth through adulthood, but through naturopathic medicine is able to draw on a breadth of traditional medical systems and knowledge (including Western medicine) to both support long-term health and uncover the underlying physiology of chronic disease.

Yet remarkably, naturopathic medicine is still well outside the mainstream, even though the roots of naturopathic medicine extend back thousands of years. Indeed, naturopathic physicians have practiced in America for over a century (naturopathic doctors attend four years of medical school and must pass extensive board exams just like conventional medical doctors; they are currently licensed to practice in 21 states). In our conversation, Michelle delves into why that’s so, and also lifts the curtain on everything you ever wanted to know about this timeless (and now, timely) branch of medicine: how a naturopathic doctor works to treats patients; naturopathic medicine's comprehensive and synergistic approach to uncovering the root of disease; the naturopathic doctor's critical role as patient educator; plus Michelle's wisdom on the modern dilemma of biological dissonance, nutrition and the microbiome, preconception care and more. Whether you or a family member are struggling with a chronic illness and are frustrated by the confines of conventional medical care, or you're simply curious about a medical paradigm that can promote wellness in an ever more uncertain future, you won't want to miss this episode! 

Here’s what we talk about:

  • What is naturopathic medicine? Michelle dispels the myths

  • How naturopathic medicine examines the underlying biochemistry and physiology of illness to help the body heal itself

  • Naturopathic medical school training and Michelle’s early work with underserved populations

  • A “naturopathic doctor” versus a “naturopath”

  • The amazing perspective of being both pediatrician and midwife

  • Michelle’s ’80s Midwest upbringing, and her journey to becoming a naturopathic doctor

  • The plethora of naturopathic doctors in the Pacific Northwest versus LA: “Most people don’t know what it is that I am or what it is that I do”

  • The types of patients Michelle sees

  • Seeing health preventively versus “waiting until something bad happens”

  • Navigating the minefield of America’s medical system

  • The affordability of naturopathic and midwifery care

  • Hormonal issues, and the problem with the conventional one-Pill-fits-all approach

  • The myriad traditional systems naturopathic medicine draws on

  • The importance of the doctor-patient therapeutic relationship

  • Michelle’s synergistic treatment approach: “We’re complex people. We don’t usually have one thing that caused ‘the’ problem or ‘the problems’”

  • Epigenetics and the importance of preconception care

  • Biological dissonance and our modern-day epidemic of chronic health issues

  • Michelle’s nutritional philosophy

  • Sugar, vaccines and antibiotics

  • Naturopathic medicine as adjunct to conventional medicine: It’s not either-or

  • Michelle’s approach to balance in her own life, and her fixer-upper cabin in the woods

  • The dream: teaching as a naturopathic doctor in a mainstream medical school

You can connect with Michelle and learn more about her work and local class offerings (the latter for my Los Angeles listeners) via her website. Her naturopathic medical practice in LA is at GraceFull and her midwifery practice is at TLC Midwifery Care. Understandably, her schedule is a bit too packed these days for social media, but you can follow Michelle's work and mission via GraceFull on Facebook and on Instagram

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan. Want to chime in on this episode or have an idea for a future show? Connect with me via my Instagram page, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Learn more about naturopathic medicine: 

Bastyr University - About Naturopathic Medicine
National University of Natural Medicine - History of Naturopathic Medicine
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Naturopathic Doctor News and Review