060: Stress Response-Skin Rash Connection w/ Dr. Jerry Bailey

Finding the root cause of a chronic skin condition is hard work, especially since many conventional doctors simply prescribe steroids instead of digging deeper. My guest today will talk more about the possible root causes associated with skin rashes.

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My guest today is Dr. Jerry Bailey. Dr. Jerry is a guy's guy; a Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Functional Medicine Doctor, and dad to two boys.

He practices functional medicine along with being host of the insanely fun and popular show, The Guy Show, where he interviews the experts offering their best tips, tricks and tutelage in health, wealth and mindset for guys.

Dr. Jerry's irreverent look at life, health and mindset allows guys to talk about the things that matter most to them while keeping it real yet approachable allowing men a humorous but serious talk on the topics that affect men in the midlife.

Join us as we talk about how antigen antibodies, hormones, and stress play a role in skin health.

Has stress reduction helped you manage your skin condition? Tell me about it in the comments!

In this episode:

  • What is often overlooked in conventional medicine when it comes to dermatological issues?
  • What is an antigen antibody?
  • How do you know if you have an immune complex?
  • Is there any connection between where rashes present and different organ systems?
  • What does Dr. Jerry look at after the gut? What does he look at in men specifically?
  • Can hormones affect conditions like eczema, dandruff, and psoriasis?
  • What role does stress play in skin conditions?
  • How does sun exposure help?


“When we see that antigen antibody immune complex combination start depositing in the skin and then show eruption within the skin (through eczema or dermatitis of some sort or any of the other conditions there), we can actually then know something's going on internally and we know to how to address it.” [4:59]

“Within Chinese medicine and functional medicine, too, it's always that deep dive into why and where things are coming from. And most of the time it's GI related: gastrointestinal related.” [6:10]

“When that cortisol and that fight or flight response becomes overactive, the body adapts incorrectly and we get a maladaptive stress syndrome.” [15:22]

“We can't out-supplement nor out-drug a bad environment.” [25:09]


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Dr. Jolene Brighten on The Healthy Skin Show: How Hormonal Birth Control May Be Contributing To Your Skin Condition

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060: Stress Response-Skin Rash Connection w/ Dr. Jerry Bailey FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Hi everybody. Welcome back to the Healthy Skin Show. Today I have a very special, funny, hilarious, amazing guest with me who I'm excited to introduce you to. His name is Dr. Jerry Bailey and he is a guy's guy, a very funny guy's guy and he also happened to be a chiropractor or acupuncturist and functional medicine doctor. He's a dad to two boys and practices functional medicine, along with being the host of the insanely funny and popular show, The Guy Show where he interviews experts offering their best tips, tricks and tutelage in health, wealth and mindset for guys. His irreverent at life, health and mindset allows guys to talk about the things that matter most to them while keeping it real, yet approachable, allowing men who listen, a very humorous but serious talk on the topics that affect men in the midlife. Dr Jerry, thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Jerry: Oh, I'm stoked to be here and I just have to laugh because the, the mishap there, you had the irrelevant look. That's so true too. Sometimes we're taking irrelevant look. So, yeah, it's not relevant to anything going on in your life. So, but if you want to listen, it's cool.

Jennifer: Well, I'm excited to have you here because I've been on your show and I'm excited to share that with everyone. But then also too, you know, we were talking before we started recording this about how most of the, the content that I talk about is mostly geared toward women. Then we have moms listening and we have men listening and dads listening who also struggle with skin issues. But I think what's really interesting about you is that you're looking at things from the perspective of men and the masculine side of the equation, which I think is very important and oftentimes get overlooked because men do suffer with skin issues. I'm really actually grateful that you were willing to be here to talk about the way that you address skin issues in your practice. So with that said, what do you feel like is the biggest piece to the skin equation? I think you can certainly share where you feel like this is a universal thing across the board and when it's maybe a little bit more applicable to men and the guys that are listening. But where do you think the biggest piece of the puzzle with dermatological issues lies that is often overlooked in conventional medicine?

Dr. Jerry: I think it's definitely has to go with at least looking at GI function and any kind of dysbiosis that could be occurring within the GI tract. When there's not a known irritant that's causing skin damage, you know, from the external environment, we have to look internal and go what is going on internally that's causing this autoimmune type reaction or deposition of antigen antibody into the dermal layers from internally that are causing these problems. Not just for guys, but for women, for kids across the board. We have to see what is causing those reactions in the body and figuring that out. I think that's really the biggest thing is finding out what, you know, that underlying why.

Jennifer: And so with that said, I wanna back up a tad because you're the literally the first person to mention that phrase, antigen antibody. For somebody who's listening to that and they're like, wait, what? What are we talking about? Can you break that down a little bit so that they can actually, you know, maybe at least imagine what's happening or what that is. In terms of the layman.

Dr. Jerry: So it's looking at basically an immune complex formation. You have an antigen, which is a presentation from a bacteria, a parasite, something in the system that does not belong there. And the body goes, hey yo, that doesn't belong there. It activates, oh, maybe it'd be lymphocyte or something else to create an antibody against that antigen. It tags it with the antibody and then the rest of the immune system can hopefully clear it out of the system. And so it's basically a combination of a marker from a cell, from a bacterium or something else, and then the antibody to go along with it that attached to each other kind of lock and key. And then that activates the immune system to say, attack this and kill it. So if those get over abundant because there's an overgrowth of something, particularly in the GI tract, could be on the skin also. Then that creates this large amount and it has to go somewhere. It has to be deposited. And if I bring in a little Chinese medicine aspect there. We like to see skin stuff because then we know something's going on internal. If we don't see skin stuff, we're not sure where it is. So when we see that antigen antibody immune complex combination start depositing in the skin and then show eruption within the skin (through Eczema or dermatitis of some sort or any of the other conditions there), we can actually then know something's going on internally and we know to how to address it.

Jennifer: So again, first person to say this from a Chinese medicine perspective, you are looking at things connecting what's happening on the skin was something internal. So if someone is looking at it from this Chinese medicine perspective right there, that shift has to say you cannot just look at things being on the surface. We've got to look deeper.

Dr. Jerry: We have to look deeper. Depending on the case, if we know there's a known, you know poison ivy say or or poison oak or a rash from a soap that wasn't used, when we know there's a contact dermatitis, so it's been exposed to something on the external environment, then we know, okay that's the root cause there we don't have that no thing. We have to go, well why is this occurring and where is the underlying issue that's bringing that quote unquote to the surface, you know, making that volcano erupt and showing a dermatological reaction there. And so within Chinese medicine and then within functional medicine too, it's always that deep dive into why and where things are coming from. And most of the time it's GI related. Gastrointestinal related.

Jennifer: Yeah. We've talked a lot about like the gut stuff, but here's the question for you. Because this is a little bit of a shift now we're really focusing in on this antigen antibody complex. If this whole cascade we'll say of an immune response is happening and someone is saying, okay, how do I A) know if I have this going on? And then B), how do I even stop it?

Dr. Jerry: So how do you know what's going on? Well, there's some simple testing that can be done to see, particularly if they have GI symptoms. Now, if you don't have GI symptoms, it doesn't mean you don't have issues there. You're just lucky. And that's a small percentage of what I see really of all people that come in with issues, 10% don't have GI symptoms and then the rest of the 90% do. But that 10% typically have gut issues. Also, they're just not presenting as, as a factor in their symptomology yet. So and looking at that as we're kind of digging deep into history with a person, what's going on. We can look at running a particular test that I like, which is a stool test, which is a, a PCR test that it's called the GI map. There's also several other ones out there that do the same thing. It looks for DNA and long as it finds DNA. Then it can quantify how much of that bacteria and parasites, mold yeast, Fun Guy Worm is in that GI track that could be causing a systemic problem in the person.

Jennifer: And so if that is the case and somebody has, let's just say for example, they've got some fungal organisms living in the gut. If you are to clean up the gut, will it halt the reaction or does it at least help quell that antibody antigen complex immune cascade that's going on?

Dr. Jerry: Both. It'll quell it down, but it can also fix it so it doesn't happen. And so we know that that dermatological reaction then is a result of that gut infection that's causing the problem causing the immune complex, causing the deposition in the skin. So we know that cascade occurs. So yes it will fix it. Or B, it will quell it down. And sometimes what happens is once if it's fixed, it's typically fixed, but sometimes if their system is not quite strong enough to, and their bacteria is not quite strongly from their GI tract to hold things off, they may require longer term probiotic care or something else to keep that at bay. So it doesn't rear its ugly head.

Jennifer: And from the Chinese perspective, do you, when you look at rashes and where they present? Do you ever use like anything as far as like the Meridians to kind of say, okay, this is on this meridian? Like is there any connection between where rashes present and maybe different organ systems?

Dr. Jerry: Yes and no. Because the Meridians flow from where they are, they're named for where they go through or come from. And so in the process of naming them, they became kind of an Organ based thing. So, you know, it depends on what's going on with a person that we can say, okay, this Meridian's involved. But really because the Dermis is such a large Organ and you know, it's not going to typically follow a nerve track in this sense, if we're looking more at a shingles type presentation, then we can say, you know, there's not necessarily a meridian system involved in the dermatological presentation of their issue.

Jennifer: Fair enough. I always was curious about that. My sister's an acupuncturist and it's always something that I wondered and I've actually been asked a number of times about like facial diagnosis. Like, if you have a rash on the face, does it follow the different, you know, there's facial mapping for I believe Chinese medicine and Ayurveda? And I was always kind of curious to know that whether there was any connection between the two. But some people have rashes everywhere and then it's like, well I don't know. It's affecting everything. So aside aside too from the gut, is there a next area that you might say, all right, so we've got the gut, we know there's an issue with the gut. What would be the next spot for you in your experience with clients? Where would you look as well? Cause I oftentimes find that it's not usually just the gut. Like there's other components here that have to be looked at and, and especially too, if there's anything specific to men, obviously we'd love to know.

Dr. Jerry: I think there's two parts there that we can answer as one. We're going to look at globally, we're going to look at, okay, what's the next step? Liver. The liver will detoxify, clean out these immune complexes and get them out of the system. So if that's a backup in any way, then we're going to see backup causing through that process too. And so liver is kind of number two. And then that third one is hormonal. For guys, we're looking at testosterone. We're also potentially looking at estrogen being an issue of it too. If there's an overproduction of estrogen in the system, which I'm seeing a ton of in guys now, we're seeing an over dominance of estrogen, so almost an estrogen dominance like women have in their system. I'm seeing the same thing in men from teenage years at pubertal years on up to the elderly guys. We're seeing lower testosterone levels and increased estrogen, which can increase acne. But also if we have potentially have a higher testosterone level, that tends to happen in the pubertal years as they're growing and developing through puberty, we'll see that acne development there too. So the hormones themselves will greatly influence the acne presentation on a person as a potential trigger for it. But we also can say if we kind of circle back and come back to women on that, that oftentimes women are prescribed birth control or want a replacement therapy for acne and it doesn't work, but then we know that it's not the hormones causing the problem. It's something else in the process there.

Jennifer: That that is actually really an interesting point that you bring up. I've talked a little bit about the birth control and liver factor before with Dr Jolene brighten. Some of you, I hope many of you listened to that. We'll link to that in the show notes. But that's actually really interesting perspective that if you were on birth control pills and it didn't work, then it means that it's likely not the birth control that was able to actually do and make a dent in your hormones, to help balance what was going on. And do you find it all that the hormones may play a role in something like dandruff or some of these other like psoriasis or Eczema, anything like that?

Dr. Jerry: A bit. Yeah. We'll look at it and see and see, check their levels of course through blood and then also through a urine test to look at how they're metabolizing the hormones. Often what I see in guys and in my female patients, in my young kid patients. Is it a stress response issue? So is that activation of an overactive stress response or a maladaptive stress syndrome. If we want to get a little more pertinent to how do we want to say the terminology? When that maladaptive stress syndrome occurs, then it can trigger inflammation and trigger other autoimmune reactions which lead even more to dandruff, for example, seborrheic dermatitis, Eczema, any of those conditions, their acne in that process, we'll see it as a trigger.

Jennifer: And so when you, you say about this, the stress response, are we talking about cortisol or for somebody who's maybe not too familiar with this? Obviously like lots of things in life can stress us out. And sometimes people have a very difficult time just dealing with very simple things because they're just overloaded or their system is not able to handle it anymore. In the past people would call things adrenal fatigue, which we know is not the appropriate way to describe things anymore at all. But how would somebody who's listening to this go, wait, what does that mean? Am I just stressed out? How does that present?

Dr. Jerry: I mean, essentially you nailed it. The really simple lay term is the adrenal fatigue or adrenal insufficiency. And that's a really simple direct way of describing what's going on is the cortisol response is either overactive or has got to a point where it's underactive because it's not functioning as well as it should be. So then that person ends up being maladaptive. They can't adapt to a stress response. And a stress response in the system is epinephrine and norepinephrine or epinephrine, cause that fight or flight response. Then cortisol directly follows within milliseconds after that dump of epinephrine in the system to support the fight or flight response. When that cortisol and that fight or flight response becomes overactive, the body adapts incorrectly and we get a maladaptive stress syndrome. And so then those little things like you said, you have a “strong person”, you know, strong immune, adrenal response and they can adapt really well. And then you have more of a weak adapter who the slightest little, you know, breeze and they're collapsing because their system cannot handle that stimuli from the stress there. So it's essentially a maladaptive stress syndrome or maladaptive syndrome. Maladaptive syndrome is what's in the literature itself. If you dig deep within medical literature, you can look and see and it's MAS: maladaptive stress syndrome. But if we really go deeper and really, and that's one of the first ones a few years ago that came out that actually like defined it better, that adrenal stress response, that overactive stress response, adrenal fatigue, adrenal insufficiency. Cause those two terms do not exist in the literature. But the actual response is the same exact thing. If you really go deep, if you go into the sports medicine world and look up over training, it's the same exact physiological response. It's overstressing the system and causing that cortisol to be excessively released and then eventually start to not release enough and the body cannot adapt anymore to that stressful stimuli, exercise or life. And it's the same exact physiological response. So when I was teaching this medicine, at the University of Western states, this, that was the process I would go through is like, okay guys, do a literature search for adrenal fatigue and adrenal insufficiency and it doesn't exist. And I said, now let's go in and look up, over training. And I mean gobs and gobs and gobs, tens of thousands of articles for research there that shows that same exact response in athletes that happens in the average person. And so it is essentially that same response just in the untrained person that's just causing the system to be over-responsive to stress.

Jennifer: And I will also point out too, for those of you who listened to the Eczema and Psoriasis Awareness Week 2018 you also heard, one of our speakers talked about the connection between at night when cortisol ends up going high. So you're in a very stressed out state at night that they've also noticed in some studies that there is an increase in this uncontrollable itching as a result, unfortunately. Have you noticed that in your practice at all or your work?

Dr. Jerry: Yeah. If that person tends to have more dermatological reactions to things, then that elevated cortisol at night will lead to an immuno complex increasing causing antigen antibody to deposit into the skin to make it itch.

Jennifer: So if stress is a piece to this, which clearly it is. And when we say stress for everybody who's listening, we're not poo-pooing this at all. Like I know a lot of times you go to the dermatologist and they're like, oh, you're just stressed. We take stress very seriously in this world. So what would you recommend to somebody who at night is starting to likely have this pattern where cortisol is going high, they're becoming incredibly itchy and they're then having trouble sleeping and they don't know what to do at this point because obviously sleep is critical and when this then impacts sleep, it's sort of like this horrible cascade that gets worse and worse and worse. The less you sleep, the more itchy you are, the more stressed out you are, and it just keeps snowballing. So what would you suggest to somebody in that boat?

Dr. Jerry: We have to figure out why it's occurring, but you know, for a simple symptomatic relief, Phosphatidylserine is a phenomenal supplement that's over the counter that you can actually take to lower evening and nighttime cortisol just prior to bed. So it'll calm that itching response down because you're calming the Cortisol response in the system.

Dr. Jerry: Is it something where someone could go to a pharmacy, I'm saying pharmacy as if they're really going to have that. But you know, they could go and purchase something and use the type of dosages that are recommended on a bottle. Or is it more something where you really need to work with a practitioner to understand how to dial that in safely?

Dr. Jerry: To dial it in safely? Yes. It's better to work with a practitioner who has the ability to figure out if that's the issue for you. But you know, quote unquote generally safe I've taken over the counter, you can buy it over the counter and take it. So you can, you can get it that way and try the dosage on the bottle and double the dosage on the bottle if it's not working. But if that doesn't help, you definitely need to get with a practitioner cause you always want to know, why and what is occurring there. We don't know that. And then you're just literally, as I always say, you're throwing darts in the dark. You don't know where they're going. It's better to work with a qualified practitioner, Functional Medicine Doc, chiropractor, naturopath, who does these types of things or acupuncturists or a medical physician who has that training in functional medicine to really know what to look for and how to delve into finding that underlying cause of why the skin is reacting the way it is. Why you have this autoimmune condition within there. Why do you a liver issues within there too? Why do you have an overactive stress response? Because we know all those are symptoms, but we don't, we have to figure out why they're occurring. Otherwise we are just practicing what we call allopathic natural medicine where you're just treating a symptom. You're not finding that underlying root cause and then fixing it.

Dr. Jerry: I have one final, very valuable question for you. So if we're saying that there's this disruption in the stress response, is it then potentially helpful in getting exposure to sunlight during the day? Not to burn or bake yourself out in the sun if you've got these issues, but do you believe or have you found in your practice or in research that being a little bit more in alignment, let's say with the rising and setting of the sun and getting exposure to that may also be helpful in reset because there is a connection between the circadian rhythm and Adrenal response. Do you think that that might be something that could also be helpful for people that are just like indoors all the time?

Dr. Jerry: Oh, most definitely. Yeah. There is a ton of research on that and Robert Sapolsky out of Stanford University, is the preeminent guy in the world on circadian rhythms and how it affects globally, the hormones, all the hormones and body function along with brain function too. We're inside too much. We need to get outside getting the sun from sun up to sun down and we start regulating our body better. We start increasing our amounts of natural production of vitamin D, which is huge. Vitamin D is a pro hormone for the system. It's antiviral, it's Antifungal, it's it's pro hormone in the sense that it helps you produce better estrogen, testosterone and progesterone in your system and DHEA. So getting that sunshine and getting that daily dose. Not necessarily burning the skin, we don't want that, but getting exposure to the sun is going to greatly increase that vitamin D, which is globally going to help from the top of your head to the tip of your toes.

Jennifer: And I think that's a really important point to make because we've been so afraid. I think many of us have become so fearful of the sun with all of the talk about skin cancer that to some degree and with our very sedentary lives and work oriented lives, we tend to stay inside, watch TV, do things within artificial light, and we forget that being outside does serve. It is a part of this bigger, more complex whole. When your body is saying, hey, I need help. I need you to pay attention to me with all these symptoms. It's his cry for help. I think in one respect we also have to realize that it's coming back in balance with some of the lifestyle things that might seem annoying at first and are a lot of them are free by the way. And so it's important to integrate them as best you can into your life. And I, I appreciate you for just sharing a lot of this. I feel like, you know, if you go to the dermatologist, the only thing they give you is a steroid cream. They don't talk about any of this other stuff. They're not looking at the puzzle from a like 2000 foot view saying, okay, what's going on holistically. And, I think that that's a really important place to be in. And I know that we covered a lot of ground here today, but I also think it's important to be able to see that there are there facets to this. And I appreciate you being willing to share and have that conversation as well.

Dr. Jerry: Yeah, we spend way too much time indoors and it always kinda reminds me of, we ended up looking and being like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. In that sense there is, we're just, we're just wasting away. We're just imploding on ourselves versus being outside, being vibrant and you know, getting good air and absorbing good nutrients through good energy, through the environment. Research has shown that too, you know, the forest bathing, getting out and walking in nature is hugely beneficial for our hormone levels, our cortisol levels, our energy levels, our thyroid levels, our brain function. Research has shown that a ton of times just simply getting out in the woods and breathing and walking is epic for our health. Most of the time, 80% of a person's issues, symptoms, whatever else will dissipate and go away if they correct their environment. We can't out supplement nor out drug a bad environment.

Jennifer: That is deep. That is true. That is so, so true. I know we do. You and I both go deep, which is great cause they're also going to get to hear our other conversation we had over on The Guy Show. I know. Well and so for those of you listening and who really can appreciate Dr Jerry's sense of humor and his approach to things, you have a great website called lakeside holistic. Where is your practice located? Remind me.

Dr. Jerry: I'm in Coeur D'alene, Idaho and Liberty Lake Washington. We have two clinics in two states. We have a clinic in each state.

Jennifer: Perfect. And your wife is also a practitioner with you. And our goal is to have her on the show because she's personally dealt with Eczema and have her talk about that as well. And then I've been on the guy show and so for those of you, those guys who are listening and I would assume ladies would also find the show interesting as well. Yes, the guy show is a great podcast and you can check the guy show out at theguyshow.net. Dr. Jerry, thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

Dr. Jerry: Thank you so much for having me on. This was a blast. One of those things is like how deep do you want to go? Cause we can keep digging, but sometimes you have to stop.

Jennifer: Well, until the next time.

Dr. Jerry: Until the next time.


"When we see that antigen antibody immune complex combination start depositing in the skin and then show eruption within the skin (through eczema or dermatitis of some sort or any of the other conditions there), we can actually then know something's going on internally and we know to how to address it."