#44: Scott Theirl, DC- Key Diet and Lifestyle Tips To Optimize Brain Function

by Mike Mutzel


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About Dr. Scott Theirl

Scott Theirl, DC, DACNB, FACFN is a board certified chiropractic neurologist. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Logan College of Chiropractic, he holds additional Diplomate certification from the American Chiropractic Neurology Board, is a Fellow of the American College of Functional Neurology and is a Defeat Autism Now! doctor.

His private practice, Functional Restoration, is a brain-based approach to health and wellness. He utilizes comprehensive lab testing, nutrition, supplementation, detoxification, chiropractic care and brain-based rehabilitation exercises. He helps individuals with learning and developmental challenges, autism, brain injuries, concussions, insomnia, movement and balance disorders, chronic pain and other neurologic conditions as well as those seeking optimal brain/body aging. He developed his Insomnia Insight™ program as he experienced a great need for more advanced and personalized approaches to helping patients attain their best sleep and he now offers his approach to companies positioning optimal sleep as the first step in their corporate wellness program.

Dr. Theirl enjoys lecturing to patient advocacy groups, nonprofits, companies and professional organizations such as Dystonia, Inc., National Autism Association and Developmental Delay Resources for which he is also a board member. His lecture topics include employee wellness, insomnia, neurotransmitters, adrenal and thyroid optimization, neuroendoimmunology, GI health and early childhood brain development. He holds a faculty position for the Institute for Integrative Medicine(IFIM). He is also a physician educator for NeuroScience, Inc.

Contact Dr. Theirl

Show Notes

02:05 Dr. Theirl’s Neurology Journey: During school he enjoyed building and landscaping. He enjoyed science. With these strengths, chiropractic was a good fit. He joined the student neurology club, to dive into neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, and neurorehabilitation.

04:27 Functional Neurology: Traditional healthcare diagnoses pathology. The goal of functional neurology is to rehabilitate through stimulating or quieting pathways to integrate different parts of the body and brain.

07:03 Inflammation: Our lifestyles contribute to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Whatever you are doing to cause inflammation, needs to stop now. For some it is dairy and gluten. For others it may be processed foods. It may be a heavy toxic load from chemicals. Go back to what your grandparents did. Eat simple whole foods. Long term inflammation leads to a degenerative processes. From a neurology standpoint, this inflammation can lead to many types of challenges within your brain and your nervous system. When you fatigue your autonomic (sympathetic) nervous system (fight/flight) neurotransmitters decrease.

09:10 Treatment: Start with diet and gut health. Eat simple clean food, high quality proteins, and nutrient dense vegetables. Minimize refined carbohydrates and sugars. Cut out dairy and gluten for 3 months and see how you feel.

09:28 Metabolic Testing: If you are symptomatic after healing the gut and improving diet, functional metabolic testing is done. This includes hormone testing, a neurotransmitter panel, and a thyroid workup.

10:29 Making Environmental/Behavioral Changes: Making several changes to behavior and lifestyle can be stressful. Pick 1 or 2 things to change and apply them. Then pick another 1 or 2. Cutting out gluten or dairy may take months before you feel better. On trial days when they are reintroduced, you will feel the impact. This helps motivate us to avoid them.

16:40 The Problem with Dairy: Dairy is pro inflammatory for most of us. The protein casein is in animal milk. Cow’s milk has a higher percentage of casein than other animal milks. Casein, like gluten, is not fully digested, causing an immune inflammatory response. Chronic sinusitis, chronic allergies and chronic asthma are common inflammatory results of consuming dairy.

17:50 Sleep Apnea: Chronic sinusitis and chronic allergies can lead to snoring and sleep apnea. Obstructive apnea can be caused from snoring and the inflammation at the back of the throat.

18:05 Inflammation and Neurotransmitters: Pro inflammatory foods like gluten and casein tend to alter some of the enzymes that help you manufacture different neurotransmitters that help you to feel calm. Gluten inhibits the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase, which takes the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate and converts it into GABA, a calming neurotransmitter.

21:06 Cortisol and Stress Management: Cortisol has a daily cycle with dramatic shifts. We produce more cortisol in the morning and lower amounts at night before bed. Under acute stress or early chronic stress, cortisol rhythm rises dramatically to help push you through the fight/flight response. Cortisol comes from your adrenal gland and too much can lead to adrenal fatigue. Cortisol is important for blood sugar metabolism, keeping you fully fueled.

22:52 Cortisol and Memory: As long as you have enough cortisol circulating, it binds to parts of your brain stem to release serotonin, which calms the stress response. It also binds to the hypothalamus and pituitary calming the stress response. In a stress response, you will not have good working memory and short term memory. Also released during stress response are neurotransmitters epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. When these along with cortisol are elevated long term, the hippocampus will not form proper memory connections. You will become more forgetful and more moody.

25:40 Secondary Effects of Metabolic Fatigue: When inflammation increases, so does oxidative stress. Now the body cannot heal as well. You will have less hormone production, less neurotransmitter production, and more inflammation.

26:20 Amygdala Fear Response System: Cortisol, adrenaline, dopamine, norepinephrine are all part of the fear response and fight/flight response. Acetylcholine impacts the hippocampus and how we form memories.

27:06 Moderating Cortisol Rhythm: Keep a balanced diet with low sugar and refined carbs. Get good quality sleep, especially in the latter half of the night. Your adrenals rest while you sleep.

28:17 Supplementation: You may require supplementation to replenish hormone systems, decrease inflammatory markers, and help neurotransmitter hormones, immune system and sex hormones. Diet is the most common source of chronic inflammation.

29:39 Dr. Theirl’s Favorite Nutrient: His personal favorite is 5-HTP. It is the precursor to serotonin. We deplete our serotonin levels quickly. This can throw off our sleep patterns and mood. Low dose 5-HTP (75 to 100 mg) before bed is a good idea unless you are taking certain antidepressants. 5-HTP use should be based upon a urine neurotransmitter test. Vitamin D, co-Q10 and alpha lipoic acid are antioxidants with different mechanisms of action.

32:59 Dr. Theirl’s Elevator Speech: Sleep is utterly restorative. It restores much of your endocrine system. It allows DNA/RNA to repair cell tissue. If sleep quality or quantity is depleted, it tends to unravel the rest of your systems. Enjoy going to bed at night. Make a nice bedtime routine.




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