The Air You Breathe

Is the air you breathe the same air your ancestors did? Your immune system was designed to deal with the natural elements faced by your early ancestors: bugs, parasites, viruses, molds, fungi, and bacteria. It was not created to deal with off gassing from plastic blinds, exhaust from cars, or the chemicals in the “cleaners” used today. There were no toxic chemicals like we inhale every day in our polluted air. Yet, your body is still the same design as your great, great, great, great, great, great, great (an so on…) grandparents.

When the air you breathe is polluted, your health is under attack.

I got a cataract when I was 44 in my left eye. I was doing lots of triathlons. It’s really rare to see a healthy middle-aged guy with an asymmetrical cataract, meaning only in one eye. The ophthalmologist didn’t know where it came from. So I did a deep dive, and I found that lead poisoning might have caused it.

I said, “I don’t have lead poisoning.” Well, maybe I should check. So I checked. I had the highest level of lead of anyone I’ve ever tested. I’ve done hundreds of heavy metal tests over the years. I had the highest level of anyone ever.

From the time I was born until eight years old, we lived across the river from Henry Ford’s largest assembly line plant called the Rouge River Plant. We lived in Detroit. Right across the river from the plant. I rode my bicycle around the neighborhood every day, breathing in the lead-polluted air because there were no air emission standards back in the 1950s. I was sucking in lead everyday deeper into my body. Forty years later, I got a cataract from it.

Inflammation in your body can be caused by something toxic in your environment now, or something toxic that was in your environment years and years ago.

How Much Pollution Is in the Air You Breathe?

If you want to learn what the air quality is like in your town, it’s easy to find out. There are many apps that have been created for air quality. However, even if you don’t have an app, all you have to do is ask SIRI, “What’s the air like in my town now?”

For a more hands-on experiential approach to visualize exactly what that looks like, just take your car to a car wash. Then drive home and park your car outside your front door. After four hours, go back outside and run your hand across the windshield.

That is what you’re breathing all the time. You can’t see it, you can’t smell it, but it’s called particulate matter, and it’s one of the categories of toxins that we’re exposed to that our immune systems have never had to protect us from until now.

60 to 65% of All Clinically Diagnosed Alzheimer’s Patients Have Inhalation Alzheimer’s.

This air pollution is what many Alzheimer’s patients have been breathing in for years, causing inflammation in the brain and the killing of brain cells. You can’t feel it at first; once your body has killed off enough cells, you start getting symptoms. It hits a certain threshold and then it gets worse, worse, worse, faster, faster, faster, faster until you’re diagnosed with a brain deterioration disease. You can’t see it, you can’t taste it, you can’t feel it, but it’s there — and you’re inhaling it all the time.

Our ancestors never had any of this kind of air pollution. They never had toxic chemicals like pesticides, insecticides, glyphosate or GMOs in the foods they ate. Your ancestors’ immune system and your immune system were designed to protect us from bugs, parasites, viruses, molds, fungi, and bacteria.

When we’re exposed to any type of assault on our body, it uses the same tools to defend itself as if it’s a bug, parasite, virus, mold, fungus, or bacteria. It doesn’t have any other tools. Every living creature on the planet has an innate immune system. The innate immune system, which is in our guts and other parts of the body, is like the marshal in an old cowboy movie. If there’s a big ruckus or things get out of hand, to protect himself or protect the citizens, the marshal fires his six shooter. Those bullets can cause a lot of problems.

Air Pollution in Mexico City

Every dog in Mexico City in the mid-1990s that they did an autopsy on had evidence of Alzheimer’s in its brain. Every dog. In the mid-2000s to 2010, the urine test became available. The blood test became available for children. Every child that they check in Mexico City has evidence of brain excess inflammation, the biomarker that leads to Alzheimer’s and dementia. Why? Air pollution. It’s so bad that their body is trying to protect them from what they’re breathing. It causes inflammation in the brain, and, in a child, has already accumulated to the degree that it does for a 50 to 60-year-old in other cities around the world.

What can they do about it? Not much. You can’t change the air, but what we all can do is get a stop-gap measure in place. It helps to get the very best air filtration system that you can afford. You’ll find the Air Doctor on our website is a great air filtration system. The ideal one to get is one that filters the air in your entire house, like an air filtration system that hooks up to your furnace. Make sure it’s running all the time. But if that’s not possible for some reason, you should get a really good room air filtration system. Put it in your bedroom, because that’s where you sleep and spend more time in a room than any other room in your house. If you have children, get two (or more, depending on how many kids’ rooms you have). Everyone’s bedroom should have an air filtration system. It’s a stop-gap measure, but it reduces the amount of toxic air we’re breathing in.

Hopefully as you become more informed about the impact of air pollution and the quality of the air in your home and your city, you’ll talk to your local legislators. When they’re up for re-election, you’ll want to know what they plan on doing to clean up the air around your city. Many times local activity is what contributes to the air pollution in the area.

This isn’t always the case, however. Sometimes air pollutants invade our airspace and are out of our control. For example, the coal burning plants from China release a lot of pollutants into the air. These pollutants get into the air currents and carried over the Pacific and Arctic Oceans and comes down via rain on the US. Air pollution is a big-picture problem. The best thing you can do is take measures to protect your family.

Your Immune System Struggles to Defend You Against Air Pollution

So that’s a little on the assault that’s coming in and why we get this inflammation. The innate immune system is that natural response of the marshals in town with their six shooters. What humans have that’s above and beyond that is called the adaptive immune system. The adaptive immune system helps us to adapt more than other species on the planet. The adaptive immune system is antibodies. Antibodies are special forces, like high-powered rifles, that are much more specific.

Once again, inflammation is not bad for you. You do not want to suppress inflammation. You want to eliminate the need for it. In other words, the goal is to remove the source of the problem, like air pollution, which thereby removes the necessity for the immune response and prevents chronic inflammation.

There is no switch in the human body that gets stuck in the ‘on’ position for inflammation. Inflammation is always a response to an insult to the body. The biggest and most important thing to figure out is what it is that’s insulting the body.

Steroids Suppress Your Immune System

Steroids are very powerful anti-inflammatory medications that shut down your immune system. People who are required to take steroids have lots of side effects if they take them long term, which is why you really don’t want to take steroids unless you have too. Ask yourself: Why do I need steroids, and how do I reduce the need for them? If your doctor is not familiar with how to answer that question, you should bring another doctor under the team to work with you and with your other doctor hopefully to reduce your need for the steroids.

For example, we’ve had so many patients over the years that were on steroid inhalers. We put them on a gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free protocol. Through those changes alone, patients were 50% to 75% reduced on using their steroid inhalers within one month. Within a couple of months, that’s gone. They carry all the time to take it if they absolutely have to, but if the need is not there, they don’t need to. When you suppress the immune system, the side effects can be quite dangerous and long-term complications can occur. Once again, if you the medications, take them. But, if we can reduce the need for them, it’s so much better for you.

Air Pollution is One of Many Triggers for Autoimmunity

The problem in our world today with the increased development of degenerative diseases is that inflammation has gone crazy in our bodies. We’re exposed to so many things like air pollution that we think it’s normal. It’s not.

We require a paradigm shift in how we look at all of this so that we take a step back and look at the things in our daily lives that pose danger to our health. Plastic shades on lights and lamps, plastic blinds on windows, plastic chairs that look like leather — all of these plastics leach phthalates. These toxic chemicals leach out of the plastic. This doesn’t stop after a week or a month or a year of owning the chair or the blinds on your windows. It continues to outgas bit by bit. If you evaluate your house dust, you would find all the toxic stuff that’s leaching into the air from the environment you live in. This is the air pollution you breathe in daily.

It’s only in the last 50 years that neurological autoimmune diseases like autism and Alzheimer’s have gone through the roof. That’s why we have the brain masterclass. It is a primary concern for many, many people today. In the You Can Fix Your Brain Masterclass, I go through 37 videos. Each video that you have access to is designed on one topic like phthalates or heavy metals and what to do about them. (Hint: Get rid of them!)

The masterclass provides you with a slew of practical solutions to cleaning up your environment to calm down the inflammatory cascade. Every step you take to lessen your toxic burden is a step you take closer to improving your health!

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Coriolus Versicolor

Coriolus Versicolor, a remarkable mushroom, is esteemed for its potential to contribute to overall wellness. Known for its immune-supporting properties, Coriolus Versicolor may help strengthen the body’s natural defenses. This extraordinary mushroom has also been associated with promoting healthy energy levels, supporting digestion, and fostering vitality.

Fo Ti

Fo Ti, a revered Chinese herb also known as He Shou Wu, is valued for its potential to support overall wellness. Traditionally used for promoting vitality and longevity, Fo Ti may contribute to maintaining healthy energy levels, cognitive function, and immune system performance. This remarkable herb has also been associated with supporting liver and kidney health, as well as fostering a sense of overall balance


Agave, a versatile desert plant native to the Americas, is recognized for its potential to support overall wellness. Rich in natural fibers and low-glycemic sweeteners, Agave may contribute to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, digestive health, and providing a natural alternative to refined sugars.

Maral Root

Maral Root, a potent adaptogenic herb native to Siberia, is celebrated for its potential to contribute to overall well-being. Known for helping the body manage stress and maintain balance, Maral Root may also promote healthy energy levels, endurance, and cognitive function. This exceptional herb has been associated with supporting the immune system, fostering vitality, and enhancing physical performance.

  • Antioxidant and DNA Repair Stimulating Effect of Extracts from Transformed and Normal Roots of Rhaponticum carthamoides against Induced Oxidative Stress and DNA Damage in CHO Cells:


NotoGinseng, a distinct variety of Panax ginseng native to the Changbai Mountains, is esteemed for its potential to contribute to overall well-being. Renowned for its adaptogenic properties, Noto Ginseng may help the body manage stress and maintain balance. This exceptional herb has been linked to supporting cognitive function, promoting healthy energy levels, and boosting immune system performance.


Baicalin, a potent bioflavonoid derived from the Scutellaria baicalensis plant, is appreciated for its potential to promote overall wellness. With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Baicalin may help protect cells from oxidative stress and maintain a balanced response to inflammation. This remarkable compound has been associated with supporting liver health, promoting cardiovascular function, and fostering a sense of vitality.

Purple Lapacho

Purple Lapacho, a unique and potent herb, is valued for its potential to support overall well-being. Known for its immune-boosting properties, Purple Lapacho may help fortify the body’s natural defenses. This remarkable herb has also been associated with promoting healthy energy levels, supporting digestion, and fostering vitality.

Holy Basil

Holy Basil has been found to protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals, and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion. It has also been shown to counter metabolic stress through normalization of blood glucose, blood pressure and lipid levels.


Ashwagandha, a revered adaptogenic herb, is acclaimed for its potential to support overall well-being. Known for helping the body manage stress and maintain balance, Ashwagandha may also contribute to healthy energy levels and mental clarity. This remarkable herb has been associated with promoting relaxation, supporting the immune system, and fostering vitality.


Guarana, a powerful plant, is celebrated for its potential to support overall wellness. Rich in natural caffeine, Guarana may help promote mental alertness, focus, and healthy energy levels. This remarkable plant has also been associated with supporting endurance and enhancing physical performance.


Catuaba, a potent herb, is appreciated for its potential to contribute to overall well-being. Known for its adaptogenic qualities, Catuaba may help the body cope with stress and maintain balance. This remarkable herb has also been associated with promoting mental alertness, healthy energy levels, and fostering a sense of vitality.

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi Mushroom, a highly-regarded fungus, is esteemed for its potential to enhance overall wellness. With adaptogenic properties, Reishi Mushroom may help the body manage stress and maintain balance. This extraordinary mushroom has also been linked to promoting immune system support, healthy energy levels, and fostering a sense of calm and relaxation.

Astragalus Root

Astragalus Root, a powerful herb, is respected for its potential to contribute to overall well-being. Renowned for its immune-supporting properties, Astragalus Root may help fortify the body’s natural defenses. Additionally, this remarkable root has been associated with promoting healthy energy levels, heart health, and supporting the body’s ability to adapt to stress.

Asian Licorice Root

Asian Licorice Root, a versatile herb, is valued for its potential to support overall wellness. Known for its adaptogenic properties, it may help the body cope with stress and maintain balance. This remarkable root has also been linked to promoting healthy digestion, respiratory function, and supporting the immune system.

American Ginseng

American Ginseng, a revered herb, is prized for its potential to contribute to overall well-being. With adaptogenic properties, it may assist the body in managing stress and maintaining harmony. American Ginseng has also been associated with promoting mental alertness, healthy energy levels, and supporting the immune system.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea, a robust herb, is admired for its potential to support overall wellness. As an adaptogen, Rhodiola Rosea may help the body cope with stress and maintain balance. This remarkable herb has been linked to promoting mental clarity, healthy energy levels, and increased endurance.

Peruvian Maca

Peruvian Maca, a nutrient-packed root, is celebrated for its potential to enhance overall well-being. Known for its adaptogenic qualities, Maca may help the body manage stress and maintain balance. This powerful root has also been associated with promoting healthy energy levels, endurance, and supporting hormonal balance.

Schisandra Fruit

Schisandra Fruit, a unique berry, is renowned for its potential to contribute to overall wellness. Boasting adaptogenic properties, it may help the body adapt to stress and maintain equilibrium. Schisandra Fruit has also been linked to promoting healthy energy levels, mental clarity, and supporting the body’s natural defense


Acai, a nutrient-dense berry, is recognized for its potential to enhance overall well-being. Rich in antioxidants, Acai may help support the body’s defenses against environmental stressors, while promoting healthy energy levels and vitality.

Himalayan Goji

Himalayan Goji, a nutrient-rich fruit, is valued for its potential contribution to overall wellness. This superfood is believed to support the immune system, promote healthy energy levels, and aid in maintaining balance within the body. With its antioxidant properties, Himalayan Goji may help protect cells from environmental stressors.

Gotu Kola

The main group of components in gotu kola is the triterpenes including asiaticoside, madecassoside, asiatic acid, and madecassic acid, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are shown to positively influence brain plasticity which means a much sharper you.

  • Exhibits significant wound healing ability, Improves microcirculatory parameters, Sedative and anxiolytic properties, Antidepressant, Re-vitalize the brain and nervous system, increase attention span and concentration and combat aging:

Water Hyssop

Best known as a neural tonic and memory enhancer this powerful herb increases cerebral blood flow and neurotransmitter modulation.

Green Tea Extract

Healthy energy producer and one of the more researched and promising supplements. It upregulates fat metabolism at rest and during exercise. In recent years the consumption of Green Tea Extract has shown to help prevent lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular disease because of it’s preventative effects on chronic inflammation.

  • Helps with weight loss by increasing a protein hormone which is involved in regulating glucose levels as well
    as fatty acid breakdown:
  • Decrease cholesterol absorption and plasma levels, has strong free radical-scavenging
    activity inhibiting LDL oxidation, reduce the adhesion molecule expression, has antitrombotic activities by inhibiting platelet aggregation: 

Mikania Guaco

“Guaco” is Sun Horse Energy founder Dan Moriarty’s favorite herb, and the reason why he’s still alive. Traditionally, it’s a well-known herb for snake bites, scorpion stings and other venomous creatures. Guaco acts as a non-steroidal bronchodilator, meaning it opens up the airways without steroids. As a result of guaco opening up the airways, the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs) are better able to accept oxygen transfer and get rid of carbon dioxide. In Brazil, Guaco syrup is one of the most popular herbal medicines used to treat the symptoms of asthmatic bronchitis, cough and hoarseness.

Osha Root

A traditional Native American herb, Osha is also known as “Bear Root”. Native Americans noticed that when bears emerged from hibernation, the first thing they did after being in a state of torpor for 4 months was not feast on salmon or drink water, but rather, dig up osha and eat it. Why? It decongests and wakes up the lungs. Native Americans who used Osha were able to run further, and treat their colds and congestion. Modern research studies suggest Osha may support the immune system by offering protective effects against oxidative damage.

I want to thank you for your existence. I want you to know that functional medicine has changed my life, well the life of my autistic son. So much so that I plan on taking the Functional Medicine Health Coach Certificate and work with my new friend who is now a Functional Medicine Doctor from the Institute of Functional Medicine and spread the word on GI testing and how finding the underlying issues will help eliminate autistic traits. 

I hope to be able to meet you one day so I can share this great news with others. Changing my son’s diet has changed him. Food is medicine!! By the way, I’m cooking my rutabaga. I’m Italian and never grew up with these. With love.

Rita Mastrangelo

I found you on YouTube a couple of weeks ago and I’m hooked. I listen to you a couple of hours every morning. I am being tested for celiac disease and have been gluten-free for a couple of weeks. Thank you for all of your insight.

April Renee

Just wanted to tell you that you’re amazing! You are helping so many people all over the world! Including me! Thank you so very much, Dr. Tom O’Bryan!

Patricia Puddle

Good morning Dr. Tom, Would just like to say thank you! This time last year I was going through a hell of a time with my gut. Terrible indigestion on a regular basis, feeling as if I had eaten a boulder and the tiredness was doing my heed (scottish for head) in! With two young girls being tired is not an option!

I went to the doctors on a number of occasions and they decided to prescribe omeprazole to mask the problem, sorry help my problem. I decided taking these drugs was not an option for me! So I started googling the life out of it!! Low and behold you started popping up!! Oh and Gluten intolerance! 

Your advice has been second to none! You have in my case really simplified what gluten does to my body and now that I have cut it out (which as it appears in lots of foods, some I can’t understand) I have found that my symptoms very quickly reduced and now I’m a year down the line they have gone for the vast majority of the time!! For that I’m truly grateful. I now follow you on YouTube and Instagram, which continues to educate me and the importance of gut health. I look forward to your future advice. Yours faithfully,

Gary Christie

Black Ant Extract

A Chinese medicine tonic, Black Ant is used to support energy levels. (In traditional Chinese medicine, Black Ant is given to increase vital Qi.) Research studies demonstrate that Black Ant supports the function of the thymus gland, which plays a crucial role in the immune system, producing and activating lymphocytes.

Siberian Ginseng

This well known adaptogen has been proven to reduce cardiovascular stress, lower and stabilize blood sugar to healthy levels, and encourages a more efficient lipid metabolism.

Pine Bark Extract

Many studies have shown that pine bark possesses anti-aging properties. It’s very similar in nature to the well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound, resveratrol, which is abundant in red wine and grapes. Pine bark has a proven beneficial effect on lipids, the cardiovascular and immune systems.

Lion's Mane

A very yummy and medicinal mushroom is a well established candidate for brain and nerve health because it triggers neurite outgrowth and regenerates damaged nerves. Lions Mane has been extensively studied for its neuro-health properties.


This is an enzyme/protein that speeds up biochemical reactions and helps to prevent and dissolve the formations of blood clots (thrombi); addresses the problem of blood hyperviscosity, thereby preventing thick and sticky blood, which is not conducive to overall cardiovascular health.


Referred to as the women’s ultimate power herb, by some herbal enthusiasts. Used in India for at least 3,000 years, Shatavari, is structurally similar to estrogen produced within the body. Some researchers have concluded shatavari can be a highly effective alternative to synthetic hormone replacement therapy for peri- and menopausal women.

Chaste Tree Berry

Improve female libido, mitigate PMS, reproductive health

Horny Goat Weed

Increase para-sympathetic nervous activity, mitigate osteoporosis, improve libido, enhance smooth muscle tissue function

  • Treatment for erectile problems and nerve injuries in human patients:
  • Prevents thickening or hardening of the arteries through multiple mechanisms, including attenuating DNA damage, correcting endothelial dysfunction, inhibiting the proliferation and migration of smooth muscle cells, repressing macrophage-derived foam cell formation and inflammatory responses, as well as preventing platelet activation:

Bulgarian Tribulus

Enhance athletic performance, improve circulation, improve sexual performance, more efficient rates of protein synthesis


Cordyceps, a genus of mushroom, gained lots of attention after Chinese long-distance runners performed impressively at international competitions in the 1990s and early 2000s. Along with high-altitude training, supplementing with cordyceps was part of their intense training program. A research study concludes that cordyceps improves tolerance to high-intensity exercise after supplementation with it because the fungus is thought to increase blood flow, enhance oxygen utilization; it also acts as an antioxidant. It also has powerful anti-tumor properties, the ability to regulate the endocrine system, enhance your immune function, and protect the kidneys, lung, liver, and other organs.

  • Immunomodulatory, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities, promotion of endurance capacity, and learning-memory improvement, can be used to treat conditions such as hyposexuality, night sweats, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, asthenia, arrhythmias, and other heart, respiratory, renal and liver diseases:
  • Various pharmacological actions, including nephroprotective, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and antiapoptotic effects:

Ginkgo Biloba

In recent decades, an extract of the leaves of the tree Ginkgo biloba L. has been used to improve memory in disorders like Dementia disorders that affect memory and intellectual functioning, and are caused primarily by Alzheimer’s disease and vascular disorders.

  • Potent antioxidant properties and ability to enhance peripheral and cerebral circulation, ginkgo’s primary application lies in the treatment of cerebrovascular dysfunctions and peripheral vascular disorders:
  • Experimental results showed extracts of G.Biloba to upregulate protein expressions of BDNF:
  • The effects of Ginkgo biloba extract on cognitive functions in aged female rats;
  • The role of oxidative stress and brain-derived neurotrophic factor:


Jiaogulan, a versatile herb, is celebrated for its potential to support overall well-being. Known for its adaptogenic properties, Jiaogulan may help the body cope with stress and maintain balance. This remarkable herb has also been associated with promoting healthy energy levels, boosting endurance, and fostering a sense of calm and relaxation.