Author Archives: Dr. Richard Matthews

Vaccination, Gut Bacteria, and…logic?

GettyImages-680796855-58b8da313df78c353c234a23 - CopyA central part of the news cycle recently (March 2019) seems to be about two sides of “the vaccine issue”. There is more effort to make vaccines mandatory for everybody, with no choices available, to stop providing religious or even medical exemptions from vaccination. There is increasing pressure to make vaccination not just mandatory, but even forced. My hope is that more information might make people on both sides of the argument less inclined to antagonize each other, while perhaps even helping reduce the incidence of vaccine adverse reactions and disease outbreaks.

As a starting point, because many people (including health care practitioners) routinely say that permanent injuries from vaccines simply do not happen, take a look at the CDC page that describes side effects from each class of vaccination.

The issues of personal freedom vs. government intervention for this issue are startling. Forced vaccination? Are we willing to go there, really? It is interesting to note that many of the people promoting mandatory and forced vaccination are also people that are “pro-choice”, citing a “woman’s right to choose.” The contradictions here are startling. I could rant here, but I’ll bypass the soapbox and focus on the particular concepts that need to be discussed with regards to vaccines.

There are many cases of what is known as “vaccine failure,” which is defined as when the vaccination doesn’t impart immunity to the patient. In fact, you might be interested to learn that studies have shown that vaccinated individuals can still contract the diseases they are vaccinated for. One outbreak in a school with 98% vaccination rates had 48% of measles cases occurring in vaccinated individuals ( There are actually many studies of vaccine failure, showing that in many individuals the vaccine simply doesn’t elicit a sufficient immune response. Why would this be?

The “flipside” of the argument is also interesting; when vaccines cause injuries. While the incidence is quite low, it’s also a lot of injuries because of the number of people vaccinated. Many parents report being, essentially, bullied and shamed into vaccinating their children. While the “it’s for the overall good” argument has some merit, this is a huge ethical violation, on top of being just rude. It’s also a violation of informed consent. For more about that, check out .

There are other major issues behind the growing resistance to vaccines. Rather than attempt to include that discussion here, I’m going to link to an excellent article written by a local doctor I know:

Now the fun part: how is it possible that a vaccine can create immunity in many individuals, fail to do so in others, and cause injury for a few in the process? To understand this, we have to look at the immune system, what influences it, and what is the “failure mode” of vaccine injuries. So here it is: almost every vaccine adverse event report I’ve read is all about an inflammatory response. Instead of the vaccine triggering immunity, the result is instead an inflammatory response. Of course, vaccine failure isn’t inflammatory, but instead not enough response at all. One could make a case that both extremes are showing the immune system not working properly!

What is it that influences the immune system’s function, and has been in steady disarray and decline for some time now? Yes, the gut microbiome. Our gut is home to trillions of gut bacteria, and they help our immune system to respond appropriately to what challenges are presented. There is evidence that helping gut bacteria improves the immune response to flu vaccine, for example. Also, in early life, Bifidobacteria abundance is predictive of vaccine efficacy.

So, if imbalanced gut bacteria (dysbiosis) promotes more of an inflammatory response to a vaccine rather than the desired antibody response, and we also know that autism is heavily tied to an inflammatory state, does that mean that vaccines can cause autism? Technically, no, (not directly) as studies have shown. But VAERS data shows an average of 89 deaths per year from vaccine reactions, and an average of 195 new disabilities per year from vaccine reactions. Also significant is that most of the neurologic damage seems to initiate from inflammation of the brain-often terms like “viral meningitis” or “encephalitis” are used. If you read enough VAERS reports or know enough parents of vaccine-injured children, you’ll see a pattern. Now you know the mechanism behind the inflammation. So, does that mean vaccines can cause autism? probably not, but clearly it can happen when there are other problems. To use a metaphor,  I could also say that when the 8-ball goes in the corner pocket at the end of a game of billiards, it isn’t the cue ball that sends it there; it’s the bumper of the table which bounces it in that direction. Did the cue ball initiate the journey? of course! But it didn’t drive the 8-ball into the hole. Get my drift? No, I’m not saying people should get vaccinated, though I have doubts about the safety of dozens of injections in an infant. What I am saying is that it is vitally important to optimize our microbiome, and if a child’s microbiome is not doing well, perhaps we should work on it before vaccinating the child.

It’s widely acknowledged that vaccines have dramatically reduced the incidence of the diseases involved, and the facts definitely prove that. The differences as far as deaths or injuries are not always so clear however. For example, in 1920 there were 469,924 cases of measles in the US; a huge number. There were also 7,575 deaths, which is just tragic. From 1958 to 1962, the US averaged 503,282 measles cases per year, but only 432 deaths. Measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, and many claim the dramatic reduction in cases and deaths is due to the vaccine. It’s clear that is only partly true, as the deaths had plummeted before the vaccine was introduced. The number of cases was clearly reduced by the vaccines-but the human immune system was improving and providing more resistance. It’s also likely that some of the reduction in mortality was due to improvements in medical care.

If you now have a bit more interest in the microbiome and how to improve the health of your gut bacteria, I’ve written a book about gut bacteria. It’s called The Symbiont Factor and is available on Amazon. I will soon be publishing a new book, which will in some ways be a second edition/updated edition of The Symbiont Factor. There is also a course in the works, with videos and worksheets to help implement the strategies that are explained in the books. Click here to receive a free report and join my mailing list and receive updates on these exciting new developments!


Gut Bacteria and Autism

Well, first my apologies for not writing more on this space! Summer is my busy season at the clinic, but I intend to make up by writing more as we move into winter.

Today, while researching a patient’s issues, I came across a gem of a research paper. It suggested that dysbiosis of the microbiome might be a factor leading to Autism! imagine that… Seriously though, when I wrote this in The Symbiont Factor back in 2014, there wasn’t as much direct research evidence for it-it seemed more to be a logical conclusion given all the ways that the microbiome affects development of the immune system, and how inflammation is tied to developing Autism.

Here is a link to the paper’s abstract: 

Please let me know what you think of this! I have seen, in my clinic, that improving the gut microbiome does lead to some benefit for autistic children. This makes perfect sense from my point of view!

in health,  Richard Matthews DC DACNB

FMT improved gut bacteria of kids with Autism…and improved gut symptoms…and reduced Autism symptoms too!

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I wrote about the connection between gut bacterial symbionts and Autism in The Symbiont Factor (you’ve read my book, right? 🙂 and often come across studies confirming this connection.

The most dramatic way to quickly alter a patient’s microbiome is FMT, or Fecal Microbial Transplant-yep, that’s a poop transplant- and that is what this study looked at.

While it wasn’t a huge study, the results were pretty clear cut-improvements both in gut function as well as in autism-related behaviors. Check it out! link is below. Enjoy 😉

The Symbiont Factor on Amazon

My New Favorite protein snack bars!

So, like many of you, I like to snack. Because I swim, bike, do Crossfit, (and even run sometimes!) I try to keep my protein intake high enough to help my body recover and improve from the exercise. If I don’t, then I also don’t improve as much, and I hurt more, which…bugs me. Like many of you, I’m gluten sensitive, so my bars have to be gluten-free. I’ve found that they also have to be made of something that doesn’t melt and become inedible if it gets warm in the car or the gym bag, because that bugs me too! That usually narrows it down to Lara Bars. However, Lara bars only have 4g of protein for 30g of carbs. While the carbs are from dried fruit, which does help recover from exercise, that’s really not a significant amount of protein. Then I discovered Exo bars, which have 10g of protein and as little as 23g of carbs-a much better ratio. Where does the protein come from? we’ll get back to that in a moment LOL. First, let’s cover the “why” of it. Jerky has great protein, but no carbs, and I need some of both to recover from exercise. While I do eat meat, many of you don’t, either for health or ethical reasons. And even if you do eat meat like me, you might still enjoy a better snack bar. So what if your new source of snack protein was produced in a way that resulted in 12 times the protein for the same amount of feed, and 2000 times the protein for the same amount of water, compared to beef? What if the protein production emitted 1% of the greenhouse gases that beef production does? For those of you that aren’t interested in that train of thought, what if it tasted great and had 2.5x the protein of a Lara Bar?
So, with that in mind, let me introduce you to my little friend…the cricket. He’s a great source of protein, you see, and actually pretty tasty. Exo bars uses cricket powder, so nope-you won’t find bugs in your food! It’s a growing trend-see this article:
So, why not give it a try? They make great snacks and generate interesting conversations too. You can order a sample pack using this link:
Be sure to let me know if you like them as much as I do!

Bifido and Lacto gut bacteria protect intestinal barrier function/prevent leaky gut

Many of you reading this are familiar with the concept of “leaky gut”. For the benefit of those that are new to the subject, our intestinal epithelium lining strictly controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream and what does not pass. This function is known as intestinal barrier function, and the columnar cells making up the gut lining include “gates” that are modulated by the molecules Zonulin and Occludin, which alter gate function. When the gut is inflamed and the microbiome is imbalanced, the gut becomes more permeable, allowing the absorption of food molecules (triggering food sensitivity immune reactions) and pieces of bacterial proteins known as LipoPolySaccharides (LPS, which triggers systemic inflammation ).

This most recently published research study found that Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus organisms produced secretions that prevent this process quite directly!

What should you do to help grow more Bifido and Lacto?


Meditate and practice Yoga or something similar, or learn Wim Hof’s breathing and autonomic exercises (go ahead, Google it…very interesting individual!)

Fermented foods, such as or coconut Kefir, fermented oatmeal which are earlier in this Blog

Work at sleeping better, preferably 9 hours a night (really)

Prebiotics: Arabinogalactan (available here:


When that chemical you avoid, is food to your good gut bacteria…

chinese-take-outHere’s some quick food for thought: isn’t it funny that we consider MSG a bad thing (due to it being monosodium glutamate, and glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter), and many people have problems with it-yet the two most beneficial gut symbionts we know of actually consume MSG and metabolize it into GABA, which is the brain neurotransmitter that is calming and inhibitory…almost like MSG sensitivity could be a marker for poor levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, isn’t it? And, people sensitive to MSG often have problems with excitotoxicity, where the brain is overstimulated by the MSG. Almost like? yes, not enough inhibitory GABA. hmmm.

Cancer researchers identify need for this…

It appears that the microbiome’s ability to help fight cancer is being recognized. This study identifies weaknesses in current cancer care protocols, pointing out that chemotherapy and antibiotics diminish the microbiome, and that the microbiome increases immune response to cancer cells. So, really, part of cancer care should be building up the microbiome. Just an example of one of those times that the most advanced science proved the need for ancient practices 🙂