Cancer rates are soaring. Could the cause be the cure?

Dr. Jennifer Simmons was one of the leaders in breast surgery and cancer care in Philadelphia for 17 years – until she discovered that treating the illness didn’t lead to real health. So she left surgery and is now on a mission to help women with breast cancer truly heal.

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Bill Ferro: Okay, welcome to the Quacks and Hypochondriacs podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Bill Ferro. I started my career as a chiropractor and health clubs, turned into a gut health expert. So, if you want to call me a quack, you would not be the first to do so. On this podcast, we’ll give you the inside scoop on the so-called quacks of the world. Quackery claims who you should and shouldn’t listen to, and sometimes why hypochondriacs have every right to be paranoid about their health.

Now with me is our co-host Erin O’Hearn. According to her Instagram, she’s a mother of three amazing kids, married to a handsome guy with amazing Lego hair. She’s a yoga lover, a new puppy owner, and a journalist for ABC news in Philadelphia. Erin, how are you doing today?

Erin O’Hearn: Fine, but you keep adding the Lego hair. I didn’t put that in. I would get in a lot of trouble if I described it as Lego hair,

Bill Ferro: Well, isn’t it Lego hair I mean, it literally like perfect.

Erin O’Hearn: It’s just hair.

Bill Ferro: Okay.

Erin O’Hearn: Just good hair. That doesn’t need to be covered up by a Betr hat.

Anyway, I’m good. Thanks for asking.

Bill Ferro: I am super, super excited, with our guests today, Dr. Jenn Simmons, she is, got an amazing story. So, I’m not going to go into her story. I wanted her to hear it firsthand, but today’s topic is all about, cancer and in particularly, breast cancer, which affects a lot of people, a lot of people in my family.

So, we kind of want to get to the bottom of this. Dr. Jen, owns a company called and she is helping people live their best life ever, better health through a functional medicine approach.  So, without further ado, Dr. Jen, welcome to the podcast.

Jenn Simmons: Thank you! I’m so happy to be here and happy that I’m not the quack.

Bill Ferro: We’re going to let the audience be the judge of that.

The audience will judge you. So that’s the best part.

Jenn Simmons: So, I may still be the quack

Bill Ferro: you may be.

Jenn Simmons: That’s okay. Because I’m quite all right with that because I’m in very good company, you notwithstanding.  I believe that Mark Hyman who, you know, has, at this point 14 or 15 bestsellers. He is the chairman of the department of functional medicine at the Cleveland clinic, which is one of our nation’s finest institutions.

And people call him a quack thousands of times every day. So, I’m all good. I’m in good company.

Erin O’Hearn: I will say that Dr. Jenn is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. We met what was it, last summer, I think, and yeah, at an outside dinner party. And we had a great conversation and, or actually the first time we met was even earlier than that, it was at another function, but I just think that she is not only extremely intelligent, but articulate and empathetic.

And I can’t wait for you to share your journey with everyone on how you sort of made a transition in your career, and are helping so many people.

Jenn Simmons: Thank you. I really am delighted to be here. My path has definitely taken a very large, diversion from where it originally started. And I’m going to bore you a little bit with the details and back way, way up and tell you that, basically breast cancer has been part of my life for pretty much as long as I can remember.

I don’t know if you remember a singer songwriter named Linda creed. But she wrote all of the music for the spinners and the stylistics in the 1970s, and early 1980s. And she was from Philadelphia, queen of Motown sound. She was just beautiful and gorgeous and talented. And she was my first cousin.

She wrote, along with her writing partner, she wrote 55 hits in all like tons of stuff that you’ve heard of.  but her most famous song was the greatest love of all. And she wrote that in 1977 for Mohammad Ali as the title track to his movie, the greatest, yeah. But it actually gained the fame and a claim from Whitney Houston’s release in March of 1986. And at that time, it would spend. 14 weeks at the number one spot on the charts. But Linda would never know that because, and I can’t get through this without crying. Linda died of breast cancer in April of 1986, just one month after Whitney released that song and Whitney would go on and make that the title track of her next album.

It was just such horrible irony that Linda’s greatest accomplishment, and she had many was really realized after she died. But you know what I actually attribute to one of her accomplishments is that her life absolutely gave birth to my life’s purpose.

So that other women and families wouldn’t have to suffer the same fate that Linda did and her family did. I actually became a breast surgeon. I became a doctor and became a breast surgeon because that was really the only way that I could see my ability to make an impact and a significant impact in that space. And so, you know, fast forward 15 or 20 or 25 years later. And I’m one of Philadelphia’s top breast surgeons.

Bill Ferro: And apparently Doogie Howser, because you must have started this when you were 9. You look so young, 20-25 years, I mean, did start medical school in year 11.

Jenn Simmons: I have really good. But non-toxic hair dye. So, I become a breast surgeon. I’m like at the top of my game, have a beautiful marriage, a beautiful family.  I’m an athlete, I’m a tennis player like Erin, one of these days, we’re going to get on the court together. And I’m philanthropic. I’m very social, and I have all these balls in the air thinking that like I’m the greatest juggler that ever was. And actually, when I was an intern in surgery, because the way that you become a breast surgeon is that you have to do a five-year general surgery residency followed by a fellowship in breast disease.

So, I’m in the first year of my five years of general surgery, and I’m the only woman in my surgery class. And. One of the women surgeons in the department and then were only three. So, one of the women’s surgeons in the department kind of, you know, took a liking to me. And here I am and I’m bright eyed and bushy tailed. And I want take the world by the horns and she pulls me aside and she said, Jen, I love your enthusiasm and I know you want to have it all and you can, but you can’t have it all at once.

And I learned that lesson the really hard way, because in 2015, I got diagnosed with my first autoimmune disease and I was actually diagnosed with graves’ disease, which is the only life-threatening autoimmune thyroid disease. There’s a lot of autoimmune thyroid diseases, but most of them are not life-threatening, graves’ is, and I’m in, I’m sitting in the endocrinologist’s office and he’s telling me that I need to have surgery and radiation and take lifelong suppressive medication. And I’m having like this out of body experience where I hear the voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher. Like wah, wah, wah, right?

But I do manage to hear those words and I can appreciate the irony that these are the things that I tell people to do every single day, without hesitation, without reservation. And yet when these words are coming at me, I’m like, why would I have my thyroid removed? Like I need my thyroid don’t I need my thyroid?

Yes. You need your thyroid. We’ll put you on thyroid replacement. I’m like, yeah, it just doesn’t make sense to me? And somehow, like I justified the removal of the breasts because, in most instances, they’ve already fed the child. They’ve already served their purpose. So, you know, it somehow made more logical sense to me than an organ than I needed, like right now, right then, and for the rest of my life.

So. One of the side effects of having graves’ disease is you have horrible unrelenting insomnia. And so, like I’m up all night anyway. So, I go to Dr. Google and on Dr. Google, which I don’t recommend people do, but everyone does it, but I thought I was an educated consumer. And what Dr. Google is talking about is diet, diet, diet, diet, diet. Now as a traditionally trained physician, and I went to Jefferson medical college and when I went to Jefferson medical college, it was number 14 in the country as far as medical school education. So, like I got a good education and we had 15 hours’ worth of education around nutrition, 15 hours. We had it for three hours a day for one week. In our first year of medical school, and then we never talked about it again.

So, I decided at that point, I don’t think I’m going to die tomorrow if I don’t have my thyroid gland out. So, I’m going to go and collect more information, try to educate myself. As a physician. I thought I knew a lot and I thought I knew how to be healthy and I wasn’t overweight. And I assumed that that meant I was healthy. So, it was really discordant to me that I was not healthy and that I had this disease yet I wasn’t overweight and I wasn’t taking any medicines. And like, I couldn’t piece it together.

So, I enrolled in IIN the Institute for integrative nutrition, because I thought that like, that was a great place to start. And one of the first lectures that IIN is Mark Hyman, who I talked about before. He is the leader of the functional medicine movement in this country. He’s a brilliant guy, highly acclaimed, and has been given a department and a chair at Cleveland clinic.  I think that pretty much legitimizes who he is and what he does. and he’s talking about functional medicine and I remember sitting there thinking. I’m a doctor. I never heard of this functional medicine there. There’s no such thing as functional medicine. And in the beginning I thought like, Oh, what is this quack have to say?

Bill Ferro: Good podcast. to be on.

Jenn Simmons: I agree, quackery! And by end of his lecture. He spoke for an hour and a half. I was on the edge of my seat. Like, I was so gripped and enraptured in what he was saying. And by the end of his talk, I had already enrolled. At the Institute for functional medicine, where I spent the next three years, figuring out how to heal myself and really learning what health means, because in this traditional medical space where health is thought of to be the absence of disease, but that has nothing to do with health.

Health is actually true and optimal function, which is what they teach us at the Institute for functional medicine and where I learned to actually help people to heal. Because traditional medicine really doesn’t do that. Traditional medicine does an okay job at managing the symptoms or temporarily managing the symptoms of disease, but they don’t even attempt to discover where the disease comes from and make a significant impact on the trajectory of someone’s life.

And so, for my 50th birthday, I left surgery. And opened up a functional medicine practice, which was probably the bravest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Now instead of cutting out cancers, which I know that the cancer isn’t the problem, the cancer is the symptom of the problem, help people to discover why the cancer developed in the first place and help them to really heal. And when they heal, their entire families heal and it runs over into their community because when you have figured out what it feels like to really be healthy you sing it from, you know, the rooftops.

Bill Ferro: And with Betr Health we use health coaches and I would say a good bit of them have come from the integrated Institute of nutrition. Most of the reasons why they got into it to begin with this seeking help for themselves, right. They had these insurmountable things kind of like your story, where they were like, well, I wanted to become a coach really, so I can help myself and my family.

And then if it turns into a career, you know, even better. This is such an incredible story because. You know, you’ve seen both sides of the equation, right?

Jenn Simmons: I Have. I say, I speak both languages.

Bill Ferro: exactly. And honestly, for me, the reason why I stopped being a chiropractor, not because I don’t want to be a chiropractor and don’t believe in what they do. It worked really well. We worked at physical therapy acupuncture, but that was to me, still more of a palliative approach. And yes, we did some, we did a lot of rehab type stuff, but I wanted to do more preventative and I watched people – my big joke has always been. You know, people would come to me, doc, it’s my back. It’s my back. And I’d say, I think it might be your front let’s focus on your front first.  And so, with just through changing their diet microbiome, I would just watch all of this reverse diabetes, hypertension, headaches, what have, and it always comes down to preventative & learning.

So, I want people to learn by the end of this podcast, essentially, more about cancer, how it starts, talking about the inflammatory factors and, a history lesson on cancer. So, I think it was an 1830s is when they S they started realizing that, this was about cells and not just lymph tissues. And they started looking at it and saying, you know, this is potentially due to chronic inflammation, a site of injury that doesn’t heal, that’s creating this. And then of course, we get to the, late 1890s and we start to look at it a little bit more closely. We’d get our instruments, get better. We start learning to diagnose it with x-ray and then x-ray turns into radiation therapy. We know things like human papilloma virus can cause cancer, right? So, these viruses can lead to cancer and H pylori bacteria can lead to certain cancers that way.

What percentage of cancers are receptor driven, like where they’re fueled by estrogen and progesterone?

Jenn Simmons: So still the majority of cancers are hormone sensitive. I like where you were going. Let’s talk about the difference, at least the way I see it between breast cancer and those cancers that you mentioned. So, cancers that are secondary to the human papilloma virus that is, and infection of a specific organ and the same way that H pylori cancers can lead to ulcers, which then can eventually lead to cancers. And these are direct tissue injuries that are chronic injuries that keep coming up and coming up and coming up and the body loses its ability to repair it, which is when it degenerates into cancer.

The breast is a little different in that, you know, people think that with breast cancer, there’s something inherently wrong with the breast and actually ends up not being true.  It’s not due to a specific injured site in the breast or anything like that. So that inflammation that you were talking about that inflammation actually has systemic implications, where it is actually changing our chemistry. It is changing our chemistry from the chemistry of homeostasis. I refer to it as the chemistry of joy to stress chemistry.

And when we are in stress chemistry, our cells are forced to respond to that, to preserve themselves. And so, breast cancer is actually a normal adaptation to an abnormal environment. cells should have a normal life cycle, so they should have a beginning. They should have a middle and they should have an end.

But when we put them in these abnormal environments, they are forced to go into survival mode. And that’s what breast cancers are, which is precisely why they can be reversed. Because if you change that chemistry, if you get to the root cause of why that chemistry has been altered, then those cells can then go back to their normal lifespan and they do.

So much so there are so many thousands and thousands of stories of radical remissions that. You know, these aren’t remissions that came at the hand of chemotherapy or radiation or other toxic treatments. These are remissions that came at the hand of people realizing that they need to do things to drive their health.

I don’t know if you’re aware of the books by Kelly Turner. One is called Radical Remissions and the other is called Radical Hope. And in these books, she talks about the common factors that all of these people that cured themselves of incurable disease. Most of them are stage four cancers. Most of them are terminal cancers, but there are Alzheimer’s stories in there.

There are MS stories in there. People who are in wheelchair, someone like Terry Walls. I don’t know if you’re aware of Terry Walls and the Walls protocol, but Terry Walls was in a zero-gravity wheelchair. Her MS was so progressed that she couldn’t even hold herself upright seated against gravity. And she now is, I don’t know, riding 20 miles every day.

And has absolutely no signs of MS. I’m not saying that there’s one formula that works for everyone. And I think that that’s why all the experts are out there with all their different expert opinions, but I know how to drive health and what my version of that is and what Erin’s version of that.

And bill what your version of that is maybe slightly different, but there are common threads, common elements. And it all comes down to living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

Erin O’Hearn: When you just said the cancer, cells are a result of an abnormal environment, one of the things that I’ve tried to learn, doing this podcast and going through Dr. Bill’s program is reworking my brain to define certain words differently. So, if you could just expand on the wide range of what abnormal can mean, because I know one of your Instagram posts talked about trauma and the links that breast cancer had to traumatic experiences.  I guess if you were, you had tunnel vision or you just were used to thinking abnormal, I’m thinking, Oh, I have too many preservatives in my food, like it’s not just abnormal. It can be defined as a lot of, in a lot of different contexts. So, could you sort of explain that range so people can get their thought process?

Jenn Simmons: We’ve been conditioned to think that like abnormal has to mean that you have had a system fail. Right? So, in our traditional medical environment, people go for their yearly checkup and they get a basic panel of labs and those labs come back normal and they are given a sense that they are okay, they’re healthy. Right?  They check their boxes and everything’s good.

And the truth is that most of those standard labs. are not measuring for optimal function. They’re measuring for failure. And by the time that organ or that system has failed, there’s a lot of damage that’s done. What I’m generally looking at is what is your toxic burden, because when you’ve hit your toxic burden, that things start to fail. And I want to get you before that happens. So, for the general public, that’s just like trying to dip their toe in the functional medicine world, what we’re looking at is optimal function.

I’m looking at all aspects of your life to see, where are the toxins coming from? And some of them are obvious and some of them are not obvious. And I talk to people all the time about what are your relationships like? Have you had trauma in your life? But also, are you drinking out of plastic water bottles and what’s in your cosmetic routine?

What are you cleaning your house with and what kind of foods are you eating? Are you eating real food or are you eating food like substances? And if you’re eating real food, where’s that food coming from? because that matters. When I talk about being abnormal, that is a range of things, but I’m more think about it.

And I was speaking to someone this morning because I saw a post of a 23-year-old that died of breast cancer. And her doctor didn’t believe that her, that the mass in her breast could be anything significant because she was only 23 years old, but we are living in a very different place than our parents.

And in an entirely different universe, if you will, then their parents lived down. And now I think the average number of chemicals in cord blood in umbilical cord blood has 250 chemicals in it. And umbilical cord blood starting off day one.  That’s what circulating in your newborn’s blood.

Bill Ferro: Absolutely prior to even having the benefit of the mother’s good bacteria – our previous guest, Dr. Wischmeyer from Duke. He was saying that one of his colleagues, told everyone leave the room, so he actually took the discharge from his wife’s vagina and spirited all over the newborn baby.

And I know we were talking about last week how both of my kids were cesarian so they didn’t get the benefit of that great biological impact that the mother can pass on.  When we talk about the preventative part of this, can you talk about the systemic inflammation?  You know, people will say, well, you’re predisposed to COVID if you have diabetes, hypertension. Well, the same thing goes for most cancers, right? It’s the biggest predisposition. But to me, that’s, still the end.

Jenn Simmons: Inflammation that has different manifestations.

Bill Ferro: That’s it. Exactly. So, it still comes down to the inflammatory process because that’s – diabetes is just a markup of symptoms that we came together and gave a name, but ultimately, it’s causing in some resistance because of the more inflammation you have. And so, when I was speaking about the viruses and the microbiome, so your microbiome has this ability to fight off these viruses that could keep from manifesting the same thing in your mind. Reducing chronic inflammation to allow the body being a state of ease so that it can protect against, breast cancer is important.

And from a, physiological level it’s my understanding that we have certain bad actor bacteria in our body that actually in the gut can reactivate estrogen. and then that estrogen is what can fuel some. So, if you already have this starting, that actually that’s the vicious cycle and the feeling. Can you speak a little bit about the mechanism of between and the relationship between these fueled cancers that are fueled by estrogen?

Jenn Simmons: So, what’s actually happening is that. Our body makes estrogen, but I want to be clear that I think that our body’s estrogen plays the smallest role in it at all. And I think it’s all of these Xenoestrogens, these environmental estrogens, like from food preservatives and plastics and that kind of thing.

I think that has a far larger role in it. But what happens is that our body has a way of breaking down estrogen, both the estrogen that we make and the estrogen that we take in from the environment. And it’s everywhere, we are surrounded by estrogens. And what happens is that all of our hormones are fat soluble.

Now in order to get rid of them, we have to make them water soluble. So that happens in a process in the liver. from there, we either get rid of it by sweating by peeing and by pooping. Now we get rid of most of it by pooping. I’m sure you’re a gut doctor. So, poop is a very comfortable topic for you. So, as we travel down into the colon, depending on what that composition of organisms in your colon is, they’re going to make more or less of something called beta glucuronidase and beta glucuronidase is an enzyme that once that estrogen has been packaged up with a bile salt, it’s able to leave in the stool, but that beta glucuronidase will uncouple the estrogen from the bile salt, and then we absorb it back into our system. Now, if there’s too much bacteria in the colon and I’m not going to call it too much bacteria, but in- balanced bacteria, bad bacteria. If you will, in the colon, that’s making too much of this beta glucuronidase and it’s not allowing us to get rid of that estrogen.

And so that estrogen builds, builds, builds. Well, estrogen is a growth hormone for all intents and purposes. That’s what it’s doing. So, if you have more estrogen than you should, it’s going to give constant signals to grow, grow, grow.  We want that as a use, as a teenager, but we don’t want to grow, grow, grow the rest of our lives. You know, once we’re, once we’re 18, we’re done grow, grow, growing.

Bill Ferro:  So, you said, yes, you think estrogen of course plays a role in the body, but it’s more of the extra genus estrogen that we’re getting from the environment, that is complicating the role, which makes sense of when you see these hot pockets of breast cancer in certain areas like long Island and in certain areas. So, am I being clear there is that correct?

Jenn Simmons: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we have three different pathways in which we get rid of our estrogen. And the most toxic pathway is actually the one that is used by all those exogenous estrogens. Both in what they do and how we are able to process them is an entirely cancerous process in itself.

Bill Ferro: Got it.

Erin O’Hearn: So, I have a question as far as your practice is concerned because, so I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was, 20, 21. But I don’t have any symptoms.

I haven’t had symptoms or have been on medication in more than a decade. But when we talk about, not optimal function, but the failure of function. When I still have a gastroenterologist that I see, they still have, you know, taken pictures where they identify the inflammation is still there.

And now it’s, they call it minor to moderate. In your opinion, are they just pictures at this point? Because what I struggle with is, I’ve tried a few different gastroenterologists and, they have said, well, we want to put you on a ster… We want to medicate you, right. Because we have to take care of that inflammation. But my response is always. But if I feel okay then how are you going to know if the medicine is working? Because really nothing has changed over the past 20 years? I mean, the inflammation has always been in the same spot. It looks better now than it did when I was first diagnosed.

But what are your thoughts on the medical community relying on pictures or, you know, just tests to determine if there is something wrong or if you should be doing something different, like, what are your thoughts? Because I can imagine this would span, different organs and different autoimmune diseases.

Jenn Simmons: Again, like those pictures are showing end organ damage, right? So, they see signs of inflammation and I understand them. Wanting to treat that, but the inflammation is coming from somewhere. And so that is how I would approach it, and through a functional lens. And I always like, I like to use this analogy about the old man lost his keys and he’s – and these are on the street, under the street light looking for his keys and the police man comes along and ask them, so what’s wrong. And he said, I lost my keys. And so, the policeman helps him look and he says, the policemen finally say to the man, are you sure this is where you lost your keys? Because I don’t see them anywhere. And he says, no, I lost my keys over in the parking lot. And he said, so why are you looking here? And he said, because this is where the light is. Right?

So functional medicine allows us to shine the light in the area where we should be looking. So, we do very different testing than just taking a picture and looking and seeing the result, the symptom of inflammation. Right? So, we’re looking at things like your microbiome to make sure that that is optimized. And we’re looking at markers of digestion and we’re looking for things like beta glucuronidase to see if you have the right. Kind of balance in the organisms in your gut, but we’re also looking at other markers of function in different areas.

So, we look at something called organic acids to make sure that your body and cells are functioning in the way that they’re supposed to be functioning. And we’re looking at your micronutrients, we’re also looking at your toxic burden and is there something that we need to correct?

And I’ll just give an example of a 40-year-old that I saw a few weeks ago. And she was really coming to me because she wanted to optimize her health. And when we did these functional tests, we actually found a lot of things that she didn’t expect to find. And with a couple of minor tweaks, she came back to me a month later and said, I didn’t know that this is how I was supposed to feel.

I was actually running at 25% thinking like, this is how you’re supposed to feel. Like I thought I’m 40 and I should be a little tired and I should have a little brain fog and I should feel this way. And she said, I don’t even know if I’m at a hundred percent now. Like I think I’m maybe it’s 75% and I have even more healing that I can do that I didn’t even know I needed. So, it’s just really coming at it from a very different perspective. And I’m not saying you may have no symptoms, but if there are signs of inflammation there, you probably can be optimized. Now, listen, I have just as many people that say, Hey, I’m good. Like I’m not giving up my gluten, or I’m not giving up my, this or that.

I know doc, I know what you’re going to say to me. I have to give up gluten and dairy and sugar and you know, and some people feel good enough and that’s fine. But I think everyone should have the opportunity to make an educated decision about if they want to optimize their health, there are ways to do it.

Bill Ferro: Yeah, that’s very good advice.  I agree. You know, doc, because we’ve spoke about the functional medicine, part of this I’d love to have you weigh on in this. So, I used to have clinics inside health clubs, that’s how I came up with this, what we call the Betr health method.

And a lot of my doctors at the time were transitioning into functional medicine. I think it’s really important for people to know the distinction from what you’re saying and what can be out there. Cause it could be also a lot of people spending a lot of money on things that they may not have cause they’re looking for answers.

And there’s some really great functional medicine out there. And then there’s some functional medicine that. Test you, you know, thousands and thousand dollars’ worth of chest tests. And then basically you walk home with a GNC store of supplements in your trunk. Right? What you’re talking about is trusting in the approach of functional medicine, to look at the body as a whole and its entirety, and then limiting the toxins in the environment, the things that you’re putting in your body, how you’re living your lifestyle, relationship, more of a holistic functional medicine in itself is a holistic approach to the body.

Rather than practice because I have a lot of the doctors that were working for me, like, yeah, look at this, we’re selling this many supplements. I say, guys, you’re not doing a good job. You just you’re giving people false hope. And that this bottle of supplements is the trick. Right? Without looking at those other things, it’s like…

Jenn Simmons: That is just the traditional medical model being reduced.

Bill Ferro: Yeah, with different labels.

Jenn Simmons: Yeah, exactly. And so that’s not what I’m talking about at all. So yes, we do a lot of functional testing, but it’s very directed in that my intake process with my patients. I have somewhere between an hour and a half and a two-hour interview where I am talking about every single thing that contributed to their health from the time that they were born up until today.

And that includes like, how are your relationships going and how’s your sleep and what do you do to manage your stress? And have you had any trauma in your background? I mean, we really get into it and almost always there are tears in that session because no one has ever asked them this before. No one has ever pointed out these things to them before.

It can be really releasing for them, but then in addition to that, I have them fill out a 300-question questionnaire, which asks them about things that they never thought about. And they come back to me the following week saying I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal for your feet to peel or your nails to crack or your skin to be flaky or to feel full one hour after you eat or, you know, they didn’t realize any of these things were happening to them. And, I have people who think it’s normal to have a bowel movement every other week.

Erin O’Hearn: Oh God, that sounds awful.

Bill Ferro: The awareness of just going through that exercise alone must be so eye-opening for them.

Jenn Simmons: It is so eye-opening for them. That’s exactly what it is.

Bill Ferro: One thing, do you have half-day segments? If I wanted to get Erin in there and my wife, because I think they would need a half a day with you.

Erin O’Hearn: Shut up

Bill Ferro: And I, I challenged that they’d be crying. It’d be more like anger and then pounding their fists.

Erin O’Hearn: Well, actually, it was, it’s funny that you said that because me even thinking about visiting Dr. Jen, I started feeling like I was going to tear up…

Jenn Simmons: But sometimes it’s about that. I mean, my constipation patients and I, I have a whole following of them. I don’t know. I guess I, who knows why I attract what I attract in the universe, but my constipation patients the first thing that I say to them is I want you to think about what you’re holding on to, and that almost all, maybe not immediately, but it almost always brings out tears. So, they either cry right then, or they cry that night. A hundred percent of the time get an email the next day, because that really, it resonates with them.

It’s just, it is a very holistic approach and don’t people think like, Oh, they’re just coming to me for breast cancer or they’re just coming to me for osteoporosis. Or they’re just coming to me for constipation or thyroid disease. And within minutes they realize that we’re all one system. It’s all interconnected.

Bill Ferro: And separate themselves from the diagnosis, right? It’s like, People say, well, I’m this? No, you’re not, you’re not diabetic. You have signs and symptoms of that. And if Erin comes to you and you start to see any water, that’s her eyes sweating. She works out her eyes. And if those big glasses start to fog up, they got to get one of those big squeegees.

Erin O’Hearn: I love the fact that I am a co-host on this program, but I’m really just use it as a tool and at the expense of your warped sense of humor, because we learn a lot. And then when things get to a certain point, it’s like he has an alarm clock, then all of a sudden you start making fun of me.

So, if Dr. Jenn asks you about the trauma in my life, it started five weeks ago with Quacks and Hypochondriacs.

Bill Ferro: Is that shirt you’re wearing in case you’re in the middle of war. And someone wants to do an eighties dinner party.

Erin O’Hearn: No, I…

Jenn Simmons: I love that jacket by the

Bill Ferro: We’ve got so much tile. I mean, look at me.

Erin O’Hearn: I don’t know. Your hat keeps disappearing.

Bill Ferro: It’s better.

Erin O’Hearn: Yeah, but it keeps disappearing in the green screen, in your castle.

Bill Ferro: I know.

Erin O’Hearn:  I wanted to bring up one point too, because I think that people have to be prepared and willing to see you and get that information. There has to be a fear in it and I’m likening it to someone doesn’t feel well. And they’re hesitant about going to the doctor because they don’t want to find out the answer. So, I think what kind of mental preparation can you give people to take that step of saying, okay, I’m going to do this because it’s not the easiest way to do it. And I have fears because there’s things I don’t want to give up or things that I don’t want to know about myself.

But like you said, you don’t really know how bad you felt until you know, what it’s like to feel. Good.

Jenn Simmons: So, this process is not for everyone. And for a lot of the reasons that you were talking about right now, the way our current medical system is set up, there’s really no patient responsibility. Right? The thinking is the understanding is the portrayal is, is that. Diseases, something that happened to you and here, I’m going to give you something to manage the symptom because you know, there’s nothing you can do. And so, it completely removes freewill and accountability. The functional medicine system is all about free will and accountability. And it’s based on the foundation that our genes are just a guide or a roadmap, but in no way is our destiny predetermined and that we can take ownership of our health and we can do the things that need to be done in order to influence that health.

The problem is that that’s a lot of responsibility and the fear of failure is immense for people. So, like, what if I do all of that and I still have this, or what if I, you know, for my breast cancer patients, what if I do all of this and I still die? Well, guess what, if you don’t do this, you’re definitely dying. And that’s part of where I come from. I mean, listen, we’re all going to die anyway. Right? So, I want people to live their best life for as long as they can. but that takes a lot of personal responsibility. It takes a lot of awareness and this process is a really honest process and you have to be able to hear it and be brave and make changes that can sometimes be hard. And there are lots of people that just want the pill and that’s okay.

Bill Ferro: So, Dr. Simmons, I think this is for everybody. Because of, if people sat in front of the right person, like you and it’s explained in a certain way. And so, a lot of times when people are coming to us, I’m like, listen, this isn’t your fault. So, I let it take a little bit of a different approach because.

We have been giving them the other paradigm. We told them they need to flip tires and parking lots exercise, take all these medications were the ones that force fed them this bad approach, which actually got you into your profession and me to my profession, we went down this road thinking this is the end all be.

All these folks are already joining jenny Craig, weight Watchers, flipping tires, their friends sold them. Some multi-level marketing shakes or pink drink that they’re drinking on the knee. They actually want to be successful, yet they’re so out of balance. And so out of ease, their body is prioritizing fear and anxiety. So, it makes it even more fearful.

Really, it’s much easier. It’s within 24 to 48 hours of making a few minor changes, more water, fruits, vegetables. Your microbiome starts to come into play. Your physiology starts to come in, play, then your psychological. So, anyone out there is thinking, well, I don’t know if I want to go and uncover all these things with Dr. Simmons. I’d say go uncover them because what you’re going to uncover, it’s actually so much easier than you ever imagined to be in the best, feel the best, look the best. And you see this all the time. Like you don’t have to suffer with constipation. It shouldn’t be hard. It should be easy.

So, if anyone’s listening to say, well, I’m not sure I want to uncover this. Yes, you do. You want to cover it now? And you want to Trevor quickly or. Keep going the other route, where you go, where you’re pushing up against the wall. You keep trying to do the same thing over and over again, and let’s let them off the hook. It’s not your lack of willpower motivation. It’s not your lack of accountability.

Of course, you want to be there for your kids. Of course, you want to be a good husband, mother, whatever it is you want to be, you have just been given the wrong pathway. And on top of the wrong pathway, here’s 80,000 chemicals thrown at you everywhere you turn. Get the information, get it all in one place. Be aware of all the little variants in the environment and go for it. I think people would within minutes of just sitting with you in 10 minutes already, they’d have this enlightenment and they’d see just like your patients are probably seeing now, Hey, you know why this is easy. Cause I feel amazing. Right?

Jenn Simmons: I mean, it is without question life-changing without question, but you know, there’s still a lot of noise out there and traditional medical community is holding tight, right? Because if people are able to reverse disease and if people are able to heal themselves something that the traditional medical doctors are not taught to do. They don’t know how to drive health. If people are able to heal themselves, where does that leave that system? And they’re so uncomfortable with it that like the things that the medical oncologists now say about me, where, you know, we would sit around the table for many, many years where I was their leader, and now they call me a quack.

Bill Ferro: Yes. Welcome. Welcome here. What’s happening? I mean, can you imagine in 2006. I started doing a gut health program. Everyone’s like, what are you doing?

Jenn Simmons: I can’t imagine.

Bill Ferro: And that’s why we that’d be direct to consumer for so long. So, we only were direct to consumer kind of like functional medicine in certain ways. And then in 2017, our outcomes are so good. The CDC said, yeah, okay. You’re a diabetes prevention program. Your outcomes are great. And then we went into the health plans and said, Well, we’ll take them at risk. You don’t have to believe me. We’ll take them fully at risk. And if we don’t drop their A1C blood pressure, then don’t pay us.

And I think there’s an awakening happening. That’s going to help – you’re starting to see this in the younger medical doctors, the medical doctors, like you, that turned around and said, this is not fun for me anymore. Now the payment models have shifted to be paid for performance and outcomes based.

It’s allowing from a lot more quackery. Uh, blue shield of California right now is actually covering over a hundred of our patients to help them buy our food meal delivery. Cause if they’re food insecure, how do they get the food? And Medicare is opening that up. So, like where you’re now at the forefront of the quackery, which is great because the health plans that are fitting the bill, like, well, if you put them on that CGM, the continuous glucose monitor, they’re never getting off of it.

And I know I’m signing up for four or $500 a month in perpetuity. Or I can have them go over there, eat fruits, vegetables, and be off of medications in six weeks. Uh, yeah, I’ll take that. I’ll take door number one. And so, I think it was easier for me. Cause I went into this knowing I was going to be a quack.

It’s harder for you because you, like you said, you were at the top, you were what, Einstein medical? You were at the top and you left to join us lowly quacks. I’m so impressed. Oh, it’s awesome. I’m so excited with the work you’re doing. First of all, your website is beautiful. Everybody needs to go, um, check it out.

It’s a And what I love about it is the first word you see is better, but you actually spelled it right. b-e-t-t-e-r. Not like my dumb company is spelled b-e-t-r health. It’s a beautiful website, really great information articles looks like you have an awesome team there. And so, if someone wants to, do they have to live in Philadelphia to be your patient, or can you do this through

Jenn Simmons: No, everything that I’m doing is virtual. And we’re expanding every day. I’m getting licensed in multiple States, but they have relaxed a lot around COVID. yeah, everything is virtual and we pretty much have, people who see this span of ailments, but we also help people just get healthy and see what it feels like to truly be healthy.

Erin O’Hearn: And don’t forget to go to Dr. Simmons Instagram.  Her social feeds, especially Instagram because. What I find so helpful are on those days. And by the way, it’s Dr. Jenn Simmons to J E N N, and then Simmons, S I M M O N S. But I’ll scroll through. And the days that I feel like I really want that diet Coke.

I see her in a video, a smartphone video, holding up a Coke and going, mm mm mm. And I’m shaking my finger because this is a podcast and no one can see me doing that, but just like daily reminders of what you should and shouldn’t be doing.

Bill Ferro: Well, you are a delight young lady. You’re amazing. I’m so excited. This was incredible wisdom. A lot of hope for people that are maybe nervous. You talked about the genes, right? We always say there’s 23,000 human genes, but there’s 3 million microbiome genes that are made, as you just said, they’re making these connections and creating different processes in the body.

So, if you’re worried about, well, someone in my family had breast cancer or some type of cancer. You’re saying there’s more control over this by controlling your environment, what’s going in and on top of your body than ever before. And there’s hope even if you do get the diagnosis to maybe look for these, you know, ways to change your lifestyle to naturally reverse it.

Jenn Simmons:  Absolutely. Yeah. And I tell people all the time we are only 10% human. So, 90% of our genetic information comes from our microbiome.

Bill Ferro: Yeah, Erin, you’re a big bag of bacteria. I’ve always been telling everybody that.

Erin O’Hearn: I figured.

Bill Ferro: So, the next time you’re on, I want to see what the, outcome of your tennis match is. Jenn I can say this if you beat her. Okay. You will never be allowed back on the podcast. I know that for sure.

Jenn Simmons: Well, I was out for the last nine months with an Achilles injury. So, I’m going to have to get back into the game, but we’re rated the same. So, we’ll see.

Bill Ferro: Oh, challenge is set!

Erin O’Hearn: No, I don’t want, I’m afraid because I actually just emailed Dr. Simmons to make an appointment. So, I feel like there’s a conflict of interest, so we’re just going to have I’m just forfeiting now.

Bill Ferro: Forfeits in place. Okay. Well doc, thanks again so much for hanging out with us today. We appreciate it. We know you’ve got a lot of lives to go impact today, so thank you so much for joining, so really appreciate it.

Erin O’Hearn: That was great, thank

Jenn Simmons: loved being here.

Bill Ferro: Okay. So, we didn’t get into our quack tails, today.  And usually in quack tails we talk about, various different treatments from the past that were quackery, and now we think that they’re fairly crazy. Potentially today we’ve created one, maybe today we’ve created a real-time one that said, Hey, we need to rethink the way we are treating cancers and what cancers have to do with the body and getting ahead of them.

And so, we’ll just say quickly about our beautiful sponsor. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this company Erin, called Betr health.

You know, Betr health is over 30,000 members strong, and it’s a proven method to restore your microbiome, control inflammation while quickly dying and what seemingly healthy foods can hold you back right now through a delicious food protocol, coaching community, we’ll gain insight and apparent to live a happier, healthier life.

We start from the inside out, and not only that Erin did you know what trusted by over 40 different health plans and were CDC recognized to prevent and delay type two diabetes. So, if you are ready to break up with dieting points, fads and countless medications, and instead you’re ready to explore the power within you to hear yourself, then go to, and unlock your full health potential.

And just a few short weeks, you will be a raving fan. We guarantee this 100%. Did you know? I have a 90-net promoter score? Erin, did you know? Yes. I have 4.9 stars out of 1000. That’s it. Okay. Thanks for joining us. Enjoy listening to this podcast, please go and like it and find it and share it and do everything you need to do to help us find you and help you and our, and be alerted when our next episode comes out and don’t forget to visit our sponsor And don’t forget to visit so you can get more in Dr. Jenn with Erin O’Hearn. I’m Dr. Bill Ferro. We’ll see you next time on Quacks and Hypochondriacs podcasts.

And as a quick note, this episode was edited and produced by Earfluence, the beautiful team of Jason and CeeCee. Thank you so much for your effort and undying support. Erin, say something nice.

Erin O’Hearn: I love you all. No diet Cokes, lots of kale and meditation.

Bill Ferro: Kale yeah. Okay. Thanks everybody.

Full Episode Transcript

Quacks and Hypochondriacs is hosted by Dr Bill Ferro and Erin O’Hearn, and is produced by Earfluence.

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